Theory of mind disability in major depression with or without psychotic symptoms: a componential view

Psychiatry Res. 2008 Nov 30;161(2):153-61. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2007.07.018. Epub 2008 Oct 16.


Previous reports have conceptualized theory of mind (ToM) as comprising two components and questioned whether ToM deficits are associated with psychotic symptoms. We investigated 33 nonpsychotic depressed inpatients, 23 psychotic depressed inpatients, and 53 normal controls with the following measures: Eyes Task, Faux pas Task, Verbal Fluency Test (VFT), Digit Span Test (DST) and WAIS-IQ. The depressed patients were also evaluated with the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). The nonpsychotic depressed patients and the psychotic depressed individuals were significantly impaired on tasks involving ToM social-perceptual and social-cognitive components, as well as the VFT. The psychotic depressed patients performed significantly worse than nonpsychotic depressed patients on ToM tasks. An association was found between ToM performances and both BPRS total and hostile-suspiciousness scores in the depressed group. Both of the ToM components were impaired in depressed patients. Similar mechanisms and neurobiological substrate may contribute to schizophrenia and major depression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Control Groups
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Social Perception
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Visual Perception
  • Wechsler Scales