Background: Social cognition is a complex phenomenon involving several distinct processes. Numerous studies have shown that individuals with schizophrenia are largely impaired on this domain of cognition. However, most have focused on a single aspect of social cognition, namely "theory of mind" and/or included patients with long standing illness.
Objective: The main objective of the present study was to identify social cognition deficits in first episode of schizophrenia spectrum psychosis using a case control design and a comprehensive assessment that allowed the exploration of several dimensions of this phenomenon.
Subjects: 36 patients with a first episode of psychosis and 25 healthy controls participated in this study.
Material: Measures of social cognition included the Hinting Task and the Four Factor Test of Social Intelligence.
Results: Significant group differences were found on both tasks, but the Four Factor Test of Social Intelligence revealed a stronger group effect and the effects observed remained significant once IQ was covaried. Social cognition did not show any correlations with level of symptoms.
Conclusion: Social cognition deficits are present during the first episode of psychosis. These impairments do not seem to be a consequence of group differences in overall intellectual functioning and are likely to be state-independent.