Cognitive dysfunction is a core feature of schizophrenia. Deficits are moderate to severe across several domains, including attention, working memory, verbal learning and memory, and executive functions. These deficits pre-date the onset of frank psychosis and are stable throughout the course of the illness in most patients. Over the past decade, the focus on these deficits has increased dramatically with the recognition that they are consistently the best predictor of functional outcomes across outcome domains and patient samples. Recent treatment studies, both pharmacological and behavioral, suggest that cognitive deficits are malleable. Other research calls into question the meaningfulness of cognitive change in schizophrenia. In this article, we review cognitive deficits in schizophrenia and focus on their treatment and relationship to functional outcome.
Keywords: cognition; functional skills; outcome; schizophrenia.