Mentalizing in first-episode psychosis.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Psychiatry Res, Volume 196, Issue 2-3, p.207-13 (2012)


<p>Mentalizing deficits have often been observed in people with schizophrenia and a few recent studies suggest that such deficits are also present in patients with first episode psychosis (FEP). It is not clear, however, whether these mentalizing deficits in FEP can be accounted for by underlying processes such as social cue recognition, social knowledge and general reasoning. In this study, we assessed mentalizing abilities in 31 people with FEP and 31 matched controls using a novel, comprehensive mentalizing task validated through the present study. We also assessed social cue recognition, social knowledge and non-social (or general) reasoning performance in the same participants in order to determine if the mentalizing deficits in FEP can be at least partly explained by performance in these three underlying processes. Overall, the mentalizing task revealed the greatest impairment in FEP, an impairment that remained significant even after controlling for social cue recognition, social knowledge and non-social reasoning performance. Interestingly, non-social reasoning and social knowledge were both shown to contribute to mentalizing performance. In addition, social cognition measures were linked to social functioning in the FEP group, with the strongest correlation observed with mentalizing performance. Taken together, these results show that mentalizing is an aspect of social cognition that is particularly affected in FEP and might contribute to functional impairments in these patients. These deficits could be a prime target for cognitive remediation in FEP, and our results suggest that this could be done either directly or through improvement of related social and non-social cognitive skills such as social knowledge and general reasoning.</p>

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