Assessment of the dysexecutive syndrome in schizophrenia

Psychol Med. 1997 May;27(3):635-46. doi: 10.1017/s0033291797004790.


Background: Cognitive neuropsychological theories hypothesize a role for frontal lobe executive deficits in the aetiology of schizophrenic symptoms. The study examined the performance of a schizophrenic group on the Behavioural Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome (BADS; Wilson et al. 1996), a test battery which assesses the 'everyday' difficulties associated with the dysexecutive syndrome. Performance of the schizophrenics was contrasted with that of brain injured and healthy volunteer groups.

Methods: Matched groups of 31 schizophrenic patients, 35 patients with brain injuries and 26 healthy volunteers were administered the BADS. Patients were also given tests of general intelligence and memory. Patients and their relatives/carers also completed a questionnaire rating day-to-day failures of executive functioning.

Results: Schizophrenic and brain-injured patients showed impairment on the BADS, compared to healthy controls. There were no significant differences between the two patient groups. Significant impairment was found in a subgroup of 16 schizophrenics who showed otherwise intact general intellectual functioning, suggesting the existence of a specific executive deficit. Among the schizophrenic patient group there was evidence of a dissociation between executive and memory impairments. A significant correlation existed between performance on the BADS and relatives ratings of executive problems for the brain injured group, but not for the schizophrenic group.

Conclusions: The BADS is a useful tool for identifying executive deficits in people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, especially those who are otherwise generally intellectually intact. This is particularly important in the context of rehabilitation and community transition programmes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Judgment / physiology
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Volition / physiology*