Background: The neurobiology of social dysfunction in schizophrenia is unknown, but smell identification deficits (SIDs) exist in schizophrenia, and olfaction is related to social affiliation in other mammals. The SIDs have been linked with negative symptoms and the deficit syndrome, but any specificity of SIDs for social dysfunction is unstudied. Low intelligence might explain this relationship, if it is associated with both negative symptoms and SIDs. We examined whether SIDs in schizophrenia were related broadly to negative symptoms, as are a number of other neuropsychological measures, or whether they might show a more specific relationship with social drive.
Methods: Smell Identification Test scores, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised IQ, symptomatology assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, and the deficit syndrome were determined in 70 patients with DSM-IV schizophrenia.
Results: The SIDs were related to negative symptoms and the deficit syndrome, but the association of SIDs with diminished social drive explained both relationships. Smell identification was also related to Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised IQ, but intelligence was independent of the relationship of SID and social drive. The worse Smell Identification Test scores in male patients were attributable to a greater preponderance of men with the deficit syndrome.
Conclusions: These analyses demonstrated independent relationships of Smell Identification Test scores to social drive and intelligence that together accounted for almost 50% of the variance in Smell Identification Test scores. There may be common neural substrates for the low social drive and SIDs in schizophrenia.