PROJECT 3: SOCIAL COGNITION Social cognition refers to mental operations required for adaptive social functioning, Including perceiving, interpreting, and generating responses to the intentions, emotions, and behaviors of others. In the first grant period, we selected three behavioral measures that assess processes considered essential for meaningful communication, including relationship perception, Theory of Mind, and emotion processing. Prodromal, recent-onset, and chronic patients all performed significantly worse than their matched controls on these measures, with comparable effect sizes across illness phases. The next phase of this research program will extend findings from the first phase in several ways. First, we will look beyond static measures of social cognition and will test both social (facial affect perception) and non-social (problem solving) dynamic measures of malleability in response to brief intervention probes. Second, we wil evaluate the nature of the relationships among basic cognition, social cognition, and functional outcome using a subset of social cognitive measures from the current study. We will examine whether social cognitive measures explain unique variance in functional outcome beyond basic cognition as measured by the MCCB, and whether these measures serve as mediators between basic cognition and outcome. Third, going beyond the findings of short-term stability of performance, we will examine long-term stability on specific measures of social cognition after an average of 5 years. Fourth, we will assess recollection and familiarity of social stimuli with a newly developed version of the Remember-Know (R-K) paradigm. We will compare recollection versus familiarity indices for their relationships to outcome, and compare these results to a non-social R-K paradigm administered in the Memory Project. Despite receiving adequate treatment, many individuals with schizophrenia have problems in social communication and independent functioning. The proposed research will shed light on the developmental course and malleability of social cognitive deficits that impact functioning in schizophrenia. This information can inform the development of new treatments for social cognitive deficits that may improve community functioning in schizophrenia.

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University of California Los Angeles
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