The authors examined performance on the Continuous Performance Test-Identical Pairs "numbers" task in adolescents with schizophrenia (n = 59) and healthy controls (n = 55). Adjusting for an estimate of premorbid intelligence and socioeconomic status, patients performed worse than normal controls on all three d′ conditions (2-digit, 3-digit, 4-digit). However, there was a significant group-by-age-by-condition interaction (F[4, 100] = 4.69, p < .01) indicating an interaction between development and disease state. At the simplest level of the task (2-digit) the difference between patients with schizophrenia and controls was evident at all ages; while for the more difficult levels of the task (3-digit, 4-digit), differences between groups gradually increased across the tested age span (10 to 20 years of age). Premorbid social isolation was associated with worse attentional performance in patients, suggesting a relationship and continuity with negative symptoms. These data suggest that attentional differences in adolescents with schizophrenia are better captured by different tasks at different ages. The discrepant findings of attentional impairments reported in the literature for adolescents with schizophrenia could reflect the underlying etiological complexity of the disorder that may have a variable impact on involved brain regions and neurocognitive functioning.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank all of the participants and their legal guardians for making this study possible, as well as the informative and supportive staff at our places of recruitment. The project was supported by NIMH grants MH-60221 and MH-64556 and a NARSAD award (Lieber Investigator) to Dr. Kumra and a grant from the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital Research Institute and the General Clinical Research Center.