Cognitive functioning in severe psychiatric disorders: a general population study

  • Annamari Tuulio-HenrikssonEmail author
  • Jonna Perälä
  • Samuli I. Saarni
  • Erkki Isometsä
  • Seppo Koskinen
  • Jouko Lönnqvist
  • Jaana Suvisaari
Original Paper


In clinical samples, patients with severe psychiatric disorders are found to have cognitive impairments. Less is known whether this applies to samples derived from the general population. We aimed to study cognitive functioning in a population-based sample comprising individuals with schizophrenia, other non-affective psychoses, bipolar disorders, major depressive disorder, and controls derived from the same population. The current analysis was based on 148 persons with severe mental disorders and 66 control subjects, derived from the Psychoses in Finland study. All subjects were interviewed with SCID, and a neuropsychological test battery was administered. Subjects with schizophrenia had a generalized cognitive impairment (d = 0.43–1.07), while those with other non-affective psychoses were impaired in verbal memory and processing speed (d = 0.43–0.59). Subjects with bipolar disorders were not impaired. Unipolar major depressive disorder associated with slowed processing speed (d = 0.64). Our findings on cognitive impairments in subjects with schizophrenia and other non-affective psychoses derived from the general population support previous findings of a generalized cognitive dysfunction in these subjects. However, our results suggest that subjects with bipolar disorders from non-clinical populations may not have significant cognitive impairments. Our results emphasize the importance of using control samples derived from the same population and studied similarly as those with disorders in evaluating cognitive functioning of subjects with severe mental disorders.


Neuropsychology Schizophrenia Bipolar disorder Psychosis Major depressive disorder General population 



Funding support: The study was supported by grants from the Academy of Finland (ATH #117159 and #131332; JL #200894; JS #118415).

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jonna Perälä
    • 2
  • Samuli I. Saarni
    • 2
  • Erkki Isometsä
    • 2
    • 4
  • Seppo Koskinen
    • 5
  • Jouko Lönnqvist
    • 2
    • 4
  • Jaana Suvisaari
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.Research DepartmentSocial Insurance InstitutionHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse ServicesNational Institute for Health and WelfareHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Institute of Behavioral SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  5. 5.Department of Health, Functional Capacity and WelfareNational Institute for Health and WelfareHelsinkiFinland
  6. 6.Department of Public HealthUniversity of TampereTampereFinland

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