The effects of age and sex on cognitive impairment in schizophrenia: Findings from the Consortium on the Genetics of Schizophrenia (COGS) study

Junghee Lee, Michael F. Green, Keith H. Nuechterlein, Neal R. Swerdlow, Tiffany A. Greenwood, Gerhard S. Hellemann, Laura C. Lazzeroni, Gregory A. Light, Allen D. Radant, Larry J. Seidman, Larry J. Siever, Jeremy M. Silverman, Joyce Sprock, William S. Stone, Catherine A. Sugar, Debby W. Tsuang, Ming T. Tsuang, Bruce I. Turetsky, Ruben C. Gur, Raquel E. GurDavid L. Braff

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21 Scopus citations


Recently emerging evidence indicates accelerated age-related changes in the structure and function of the brain in schizophrenia, raising a question about its potential consequences on cognitive function. Using a large sample of schizophrenia patients and controls and a battery of tasks across multiple cognitive domains, we examined whether patients show accelerated age-related decline in cognition and whether an age-related effect differ between females and males. We utilized data of 1,415 schizophrenia patients and 1,062 healthy community collected by the second phase of the Consortium on the Genetics of Schizophrenia (COGS-2). A battery of cognitive tasks included the Letter-Number Span Task, two forms of the Continuous Performance Test, the California Verbal Learning Test, Second Edition, the Penn Emotion Identification Test and the Penn Facial Memory Test. The effect of age and gender on cognitive performance was examined with a general linear model. We observed age-related changes on most cognitive measures, which was similar between males and females. Compared to controls, patients showed greater deterioration in performance on attention/vigilance and greater slowness of processing social information with increasing age. However, controls showed greater age-related changes in working memory and verbal memory compared to patients. Age-related changes (η2 p of 0.001 to .008) were much smaller than between-group differences (η2 p of 0.005 to .037). This study found that patients showed continued decline of cognition on some domains but stable impairment or even less decline on other domains with increasing age. These findings indicate that age-related changes in cognition in schizophrenia are subtle and not uniform across multiple cognitive domains.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0232855
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020


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