Memory and executive impairment in schizophrenia: comparison with frontal and temporal brain damage

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Abstract

Background

Although poor neuropsychological test performance is well documented in schizophrenia, how closely it resembles that seen in patients with brain damage in terms of cognitive failures in daily life and stability over time has been little studied.

Method

Thirty patients with chronic schizophrenia, 24 patients with frontal or temporal brain damage and 30 healthy controls were given a battery of memory and executive tests. Carers of the two patient groups also completed questionnaires rating memory and executive failures in daily life. Testing was repeated 6 weeks later.

Results

The schizophrenia and the brain-damaged patients were significantly impaired on most, but not all tests. The degree of carer-rated memory or executive failure was similar in the two groups, but the schizophrenia patients were rated as having significantly more executive failures than memory failures, whereas the brain-damaged patients showed the reverse pattern. Both groups of patients showed similar consistency of performance across sessions.

Conclusions

Neuropsychological impairment in schizophrenia resembles that seen in patients with brain damage, not only in terms of overall severity, but also in terms of stability and the degree to which poor test performance translates into cognitive failures in daily life.

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