A prospective 2-year follow-up study of neurocognitive functioning in patients with first-episode schizophrenia
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To investigate the temporal stability, or progressivity, of neuropsychological (NP) impairment in schizophrenia, 50 patients with first episode (FE) schizophrenia and 50 healthy controls were given a battery of tests at the outset of the study and after a two-year interval. Both patient and control groups were balanced with respect to age, gender, education and parental socioeconomic status. Summary rating scales for semantic memory (SEM), visual memory (VIM), verbal learning (VBL), visual-motor processing and attention (VSM) and abstraction/flexibility (ABS) were constructed. FE schizophrenics showed improvement in VBL, stability of function in SEM, VSM and ABS and absence of improvement in VIM. While performance in VSM and VIM is influenced by medication status, SEM seems to be trait-related and stable; VBL, however, seems to be state-related. Our data suggest that there is no proof for the assumption of progressive deterioration in NP functioning during the first few years of illness.
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