Abstract

Objective: Meta-analyses of neuropsychological test performance indicate that individuals with schizophrenia (SZ) display neuropsychological impairments on the order of 1.0 standard deviation below healthy controls (CN). However, there is no distinctive pattern of differential deficits across domains. Rather, SZ is associated with a generalized cognitive deficit. The current study evaluated whether the generalized cognitive deficit in SZ is predicted by impairments in cognitive control and goal-maintenance. Method: Participants included 27 individuals with SZ and 19 healthy controls (CN) who completed a standard neuropsychological test battery (MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery) and a computerized cognitive control measure, the Dot Pattern Expectancy Test (DPX). Results: On the DPX, SZ performed significantly worse than CN on context processing conditions that required goal maintenance. Furthermore, multiple regression analyses indicated that context processing impairments significantly predicted global neuropsychological impairment in SZ, accounting for 31% of variance in neuropsychological test scores. DPX performance did not significantly predict global cognitive impairment in CN. Conclusion(s): Impairments in cognitive control and goal maintenance may underlie the generalized neuropsychological deficit that characterizes individuals with schizophrenia.