Neurocognitive deficits are among the most consistent correlates and predictors of functional outcome in schizophrenia, and we have proposed that the relationships between neurocognition and functional outcome are probably mediated by key intervening variables, including social cognition. Social cognition refers to the mental operations underlying social interactions, which includes the human capacity to perceive the intentions and dispositions of others. The goal of this project is to work closely with noted basic behavioral scientists to apply innovative social cognitive measures to the study of schizophrenia. Because the proposed measures were developed within theoretical models, they will yield a better understanding about how core components of these areas of social cognition are related to functional outcome in schizophrenia. First, we will extend previous studies of face and voice emotion perception in schizophrenia. For this goal, we will work with Peter Salovey from Yale University who, along with his colleagues, has developed an influential multidimensional model and test of emotional processing. Second, we plan to extend the previous studies of social perception in schizophrenia that have involved perception of situational contexts or social roles and social relationships. We will build on the pioneering basic work of Alan Fiske, a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at UCLA, and Nicholas Haslam, a consultant to this project, to test how well patients identify the types of interpersonal relationships that are described in various vignettes. Third, we will examine measures of theory of mind (ToM) that involve the ability of subjects to attribute mental states to other people. Alan Fiske will be the basic behavioral expert for these last two components of the proposal. We plan to test three clinical samples (prodromal, first episode and chronic) and demographically-comparable controls to assess the magnitude of the deficit at each stage. We will examine prospective associations between these measures and 12-month changes in functional outcome in prodromal and first episode patients, and course of illness in the chronic sample. Lastly, we will examine relationships between these tests of social cognition and selected measures from other Center projects.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1)
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University of California Los Angeles
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