Dynamic and Static Cognitive Deficits in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder after the First Episode

Jolanta Zanelli, Abraham Reichenberg, Sven Sandin, Craig Morgan, Paola Dazzan, Izabela Pilecka, Tiago Reis Marques, Kevin Morgan, Allan H. Young, Josephine Mollon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Few studies have comprehensively examined the profile of cognitive functioning in first episode psychosis patients throughout the lifespan, and from first episode to chronic stage. We assessed functioning in general and specific cognitive functions, comparing both schizophrenia (N = 64) and bipolar I (N = 19) patients to controls (N = 103). Participants were from a population-based, case-control study of first episode psychosis patients, who were followed prospectively up to 10 years post first admission. A cognitive battery was administered at baseline and follow-up. By combining longitudinal and cross-sectional data, we were able to examine the cognitive profile of patients and controls throughout the entire age range of our sample (16-65). Schizophrenia patients exhibited widespread declines in IQ, executive function, visual memory, language ability, and verbal knowledge. However, the ages at which these declines occurred differed between functions. Deficits in verbal memory, working memory, processing speed, and visuospatial ability, on the other hand, were present at the first episode, and remained relatively static thereafter. Bipolar I patients also showed declines in IQ, verbal knowledge, and language ability, albeit at different ages to schizophrenia patients and only in verbal functions. Deficits on measures of verbal memory, processing speed, and executive function remained relatively static. Thus, both schizophrenia and bipolar I patients experienced cognitive decline in general and specific functions after the first episode, but the age at which these declines occurred differed between disorder and function. Cognitive remediation efforts may be most fruitful when targeting individual functions during specific time periods throughout adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-598
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2022


  • bipolar disorder
  • cognition
  • lifespan
  • longitudinal
  • psychotic disorders
  • schizophrenia


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