Does cognition predict community function only in schizophrenia? A study of schizophrenia patients, bipolar affective disorder patients, and community control subjects

Jo An R. Laes, Scott R. Sponheim

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Cognitive deficits predict functioning in schizophrenia; however, little is known as to whether the association is present in other mental disorders. If specific cognitive deficits uniquely predict functional impairment in schizophrenia the association of select aspects of brain dysfunction with daily living would suggest an intervention target and perhaps a means by which to improve the functioning of schizophrenia patients. The relationship of cognition and functioning was investigated in schizophrenia (n = 39), bipolar affective disorder (n = 27), and nonpsychiatric control (n = 38) participants to determine whether the associations varied across groups. We examined verbal memory, verbal learning, verbal fluency, vigilance, executive functioning, symptomatology, and generalized cognitive functioning for associations with social function. Correlational analyses revealed particular cognitive domains (e.g., verbal memory) to be associated with social functioning in schizophrenia, bipolar, and control subjects; however generalized cognitive function and symptomatology were also associated with social functioning in patients. Multiple regression analyses revealed that in schizophrenia poor verbal memory predicted worse social functioning even after the effects of generalized cognitive dysfunction were considered. Verbal memory indices failed to account for variance in social function in bipolar patients and control subjects after consideration of generalized cognitive function. Bipolar patients with worse planning and problem solving tended to have worse social functioning. Therefore, unlike schizophrenia patients who may fail to process verbally mediated material, bipolar patients' difficulty with logical approaches to problems in daily living may have the greatest impact on their community function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Merit Review grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Research Service (Dr. Sponheim), a grant by the Minnesota Medical Foundation (SMF-2075-99, Dr. Sponheim), and the Mental Health Patient Service Line at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota. We thank Drs. Bridget Hegeman and Althea Noukki for supervision of data collection and Danushka Wanduragala, Jeri Angles, and Melissa Boyer for assistance in data collection. We are also grateful to Dr. S Charles Schulz and Dr. Angus W. MacDonald III for their reviews of previous versions of this report.


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cognition
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social functioning
  • Verbal learning
  • Verbal memory


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