Deficient maturation of aspects of attention and executive functions in early onset schizophrenia
Research output: Contribution to journal › Journal article › Research › peer-review
The few existing long-term, neuropsychological follow-up studies of early onset schizophrenia (EOS) patients have reported relative stability in some cognitive functions but abnormal developmental trajectories in verbal memory, set shifting, aspects of attention, and speed of information processing throughout late adolescence into early adulthood. The current 5-year follow-up study compared the development of specific cognitive functions in EOS patients (N = 17) from the time of first-episode to chronic phase with that of healthy controls (N = 38) and secondarily to patients with other early onset, non-organic, non-affective psychoses (EOP) (N = 11). Speed of processing of executive functions, set shifting, and attention improved significantly in the healthy controls and reflected continuous functional maturation during late adolescence and early adulthood. The developmental progression of attention and set shifting but not speed of processing of executive functions was significantly subnormal in EOS patients. Other specific cognitive functions that had attained functional maturity in the healthy controls before or around the time of the baseline assessment showed normal development in EOS patients during the follow-up period, indicating stable cognitive deficits. These results suggest post-onset developmental deficits in two out of the three aspects of attention and executive functions that have protracted maturational trajectories and that overlap the age of onset of EOS. No significant difference in the development of any specific cognitive function was found between the EOS and EOP group.