Cognitive Impairment in Schizophrenia and Related Disorders

Dr. Henry Nasrallah (professor, University of Cincinnati, and CURESZ Foundation Scientific Director) interviews Dr. Philip Harvey (professor, University of Miami), a national expert on cognition, about how various cognitive functions are impaired in schizophrenia and other psychiatric brain disorders.

There are two types of cognition: neurocognition which refers to many mental processes that enable understanding, learning, remembering, planning ahead, decision-making and using information, while social cognition includes empathy and the ability to read facial expressions. Both types of cognitive functions are needed for holding a job or appropriate interactions with others.

Cognitive deficits in schizophrenia led Dr. Kraepelin a century ago to call it Dementia Praecox (early dementia) but Dr. Bleuler later renamed it schizophrenia (disconnected thinking). Many experts in schizophrenia regard cognitive deficits as the core feature of this brain disorder.

Although many medications were developed since the 1950s for psychosis (delusions and hallucinations), there is no pharmacological treatment for cognitive impairment in schizophrenia, which can be disabling.

Types of cognition include 1) processing speed, which is the ability to process information efficiently or rapidly to keep up with the conversation, 2) working memory is the ability to hold information in mind such as remembering a phone number or driving directions, 3) episodic memory involves remembering items (such as lists of words) 4) sustained attention, and 5) executive functions, which include problem solving, planning ahead, the ability to adapt to changing requirements.

Other psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder and major depression are also associated with cognitive problems

CURESZ Foundation Editorial Board:

Editor-In-Chief Bethany Yeiser, BS
Henry A. Nasrallah, MD
Karen S. Yeiser, RN
David E. Yeiser, M. Div
Louis B. Cady, MD, FAPA
Mary Beth De Bord, JD
Stephen Rush, MD

Erik Messamore, MD, PhD
Craig Chepke, MD, FAPA
Peirce Johnston, MD
James A. Hunt, JD
Jonathan M. Meyer, MD
Carol North, MD, MPE

Please consider making a donation to the CURESZ Foundation online at Your contribution will help provide education and referrals to persons with schizophrenia, their families, and those who work with the seriously mentally ill. CURESZ informs the general public to better understand this serious brain disorder, and to provide scientific advances showing that there is  hope for recovery, and a return to a fulfilling and normal life. The CURESZ Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All contributions are tax deductible.

“We are committed to helping individuals to cope with and recover from schizophrenia.”

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