Patients with psychosis display alterations in social cognition as well as in the realm of neurocognition. It is unclear, however, to what degree these cognitive domains represent two separate dimensions of liability or the pleiotropic expression of a single deficit. The purpose of the present study was to investigate (i) to what extent alterations in social cognition represent an independent area of vulnerability to psychosis, separate from neurocognitive deficits and (ii) whether social cognition is one construct or can be divided into several subcomponents. Five social cognition and three neurocognitive tasks were completed by 186 participants with different levels of vulnerability for psychosis: 44 patients with psychotic disorder; 47 subjects at familial risk; 41 subjects at psychometric risk and 54 control subjects. The social cognition tasks covered important basic subcomponents of social cognition, i.e. mentalisation (or theory of mind), data gathering bias (jumping to conclusions), source monitoring and attribution style. Neurocognitive tasks assessed speed of information processing, inhibition, cognitive shifting and strategy-driven retrieval from semantic memory. The results of factor analysis suggested that neurocognition and social cognition are two separate areas of vulnerability in psychosis. Furthermore, the social cognition measures lacked significant overlap, suggesting a multidimensional construct. Cognitive liabilities to psychosis are manifold, and include key processes underlying basic person–environment interactions in daily life, independent of cognition quantified by neuropsychological tests.
- Factor analysis
- Social cognition