Can the neuropsychological case-study approach be applied to schizophrenia?

Psychol Med. 1991 Aug;21(3):661-73. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700022303.


Neuropsychological studies of schizophrenia typically apply a small number of tests to a large group of patients. This approach has at least two drawbacks. First, the heterogeneity of the condition will lead to group means which may not reflect the behaviour of any individual. Secondly, it is difficult to infer the nature of the underlying cognitive impairments from a small number of tests, since good performance on a particular test depends on many different cognitive processes. In these circumstances it is more appropriate to apply the methods of cognitive neuropsychology where a large number of tests are used on a single case. This approach has proved fruitful in the study of neurological patients. We have intensively studied 5 chronic schizophrenic patients. These patients varied greatly in terms of overall ability. However, all patients, whatever their overall ability, performed badly on tests sensitive to frontal lobe lesions. This result suggests impairment of the supervisory attentional system in these patients. In addition, one patient suffered from a visual agnosia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / psychology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology