Negative symptoms mediate the relationship between neurocognition and function in individuals at ultrahigh risk for psychosis

Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Wiley, ISSN 0001-690X

Volume 135, 3, 2017

DOI:10.1111/acps.12682, Dimensions: pub.1034579565, PMID: 27988937,


Glenthøj, L B (1) (2)
Jepsen, J R M (1) (3) (4)
Bak, N (1) (4)
Kristensen, T D (1) (2)
Wenneberg, C (1) (2) (5)
Krakauer, K (1) (2) (5)
Nordentoft, M (1) (2)
Fagerlund, B (1) (4)



  1. (1) Centre for Clinical Intervention and Neuropsychiatric Schizophrenia Research, CINS, Glostrup, Denmark.
  2. (2) Mental Health Centre Copenhagen, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hellerup, Denmark.
  3. (3) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  4. (4) Rigshospitalet, grid.475435.4, Capital Region
  5. (5) Functional Imaging Unit, Department of Diagnostics, Copenhagen University Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark.






OBJECTIVE: Neurocognition is known to impact functioning in individuals at ultrahigh risk (UHR) for psychosis, but studies investigating potential mediators of this relationship are scarce. Building on evidence from schizophrenia spectrum disorders, the study tested whether negative symptoms and social skills act as mediators between neurocognition and functional outcome in UHR individuals. METHODS: Ultrahigh risk participants (N = 84) underwent neurocognitive testing using the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia. Social skills and negative symptoms were assessed using the High-Risk Social Challenge task and the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms respectively. Four instruments were used to assess overall functioning, and one instrument assessed quality of life encompassing social functioning. RESULTS: The cross-sectional analyses revealed that neurocognition was related to the measures of functioning. Negative symptoms mediated the relationship between neurocognition and four of the five measures of functioning. We did not find social skills to mediate between neurocognition and functioning. CONCLUSION: Negative symptoms appear to mediate the relationship between neurocognition and functional outcome in UHR individuals, but the finding needs to be confirmed and extended to longitudinal studies. This underscores the importance of focusing on both neurocognition and negative symptoms when aiming at improving the functional outcome of UHR individuals.


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