Deficits in social cognition are well established in schizophrenia and have been observed prior to the illness onset. Compared to healthy controls (HCs), individuals at clinical high risk of psychosis (CHR) are said to show deficits in social cognition similar to those observed in patients experiencing a first episode of psychosis. These deficits have been observed in several domains of social cognition, such as theory of mind (ToM), emotion perception and social perception. In the current study, the stability of three domains of social cognition (ToM, social perception and facial emotion perception) was assessed over time along and their association with both clinical symptoms and the later development of psychosis. Six hundred and seventy-five CHR individuals and 264 HC participants completed four tests of social cognition at baseline. Of those, 160 CHR and 155 HC participants completed assessments at all three time points (baseline, 1year and 2years) as part of their participation in the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study. The CHR group performed poorer on all tests of social cognition across all time points compared to HCs. Social cognition was not associated with attenuated positive symptoms at any time point in the study. CHR individuals who developed a psychotic disorder during the course of the study did not differ in social cognition compared to those who did not develop psychosis. This longitudinal study demonstrated mild to moderate, but persistent ToM and social perception impairments in those at CHR for psychosis compared to HCs.
Keywords: Clinical high risk; Emotion perception; Psychosis; Social cognition; Social perception; Theory of mind.
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