Executive-frontal lobe cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia: A symptom subtype analysis

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133 Scopus citations


Impairment of executive-frontal lobe functioning, affecting the planning, initiation and regulation of goal-directed behavior, is a common cognitive deficit in schizophrenia. However, it is unclear if deficits in these frontal-lobe-mediated abilities are differentially expressed across clinical subgroups. We analyzed executive-frontal abilities in relation to symptom expression in 53 hospitalized schizophrenic patients. Patients were assigned to one of three subgroups based on rank order analysis of Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale factors: Withdrawal-Retardation, Reality Distortion and Conceptual Disorganization. Executive-frontal tests included Visual Search, Verbal Fluency, Verbal Series Attention, Trail Making - Part B, Symbol Digit, Hopkins Verbal Learning, Digit Span, Wisconsin Card Sorting, Stroop Color-Word and Attentional Capacity. The schizophrenia group showed significant deficits relative to healthy control subjects (n = 20) on all tests. Exploratory factor analysis of test scores revealed three factors: (i) Verbal Processing/Memory; (ii) Cognitive Flexibility/Attention; and (iii) Psychomotor Speed/Visual Scanning. The three symptom subgroups were differentially impaired on executive-frontal abilities: Withdrawal- Retardation on psychomotor speed, verbal fluency, working memory, visual search and cognitive flexibility; Conceptual Disorganization on attention; Reality Distortion on verbal memory. The results have implications for syndrome definition, pharmacological intervention and prediction of outcome in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-149
Number of pages11
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 15 1998


  • Attention
  • Conceptual disorganization
  • Memory
  • Negative symptoms
  • Positive symptoms
  • Psychomotor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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