Cognitive function mediates the relationship between visual contrast sensitivity and functional outcome in schizophrenia

Shaynna N. Herrera, Vance Zemon, Nadine Revheim, Gail Silipo, James Gordon, Pamela D. Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Individuals with schizophrenia exhibit deficits in visual contrast processing, though less is known about how these deficits impact neurocognition and functional outcomes. This study investigated effects of contrast sensitivity (CS) on cognition and capacity for independent living in schizophrenia. Methods: Participants were 58 patients with schizophrenia (n = 49) and schizoaffective disorder (n = 9). Patients completed a psychophysical paradigm to obtain CS with stimuli consisting of grating patterns of low (0.5 and 1 cycles/degree) and high spatial frequencies (4, 7, 21 cycles/degree). Patients completed the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales, Third Edition to assess cognition, and the problem-solving factor of the Independent Living Scales to assess functional capacity. We computed bivariate correlation coefficients for all pairs of variables and tested mediation models with CS to low (CS–LSF) and high spatial frequencies (CS–HSF) as predictors, cognitive measures as mediators, and capacity for independent living as an outcome. Results: Cognition mediated the relationship between CS and independent living with CS–LSF a stronger predictor than CS–HSF. Mediation effects were strongest for perceptual organization and memory-related domains. In an expanded moderated mediation model, CS–HSF was found to be a significant predictor of independent living through perceptual organization as a mediator and CS–LSF as a moderator of this relationship. Conclusion: CS relates to functional capacity in schizophrenia through neurocognition. These relationships may inform novel visual remediation interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Cognition
  • Independent living
  • Mediation analysis
  • Vision
  • Visual pathways
  • Visual perception


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