Neurocognitive symptoms exert the most influence on treatment outcomes over the course of schizophrenia, starting from the first-episode of psychosis (FEP) onwards. Our aim was to analyze the neurocognitive status of FEP compared to healthy controls (HC), and its change after 18 months of treatment. We performed a study in a sample of 159 patients with FEP and 100 HC. We followed the patients up for 18 months after initial assessment with a battery of neurocognitive tests. We observed statistically significant improvement in the majority of neurocognitive tests after 18 months, but several tests of specific neurocognitive domains (verbal memory, language functions, executive functions) did not show significant differences between the two assessments. The results for the majority of tests obtained from patients with FEP after 18 months of treatment showed significant deterioration compared with HC. Although our study showed significant improvement of baseline neurocognitive deficits in FEP with treatment, this varied across domains and overall performance remained below that of HC. Thus, while it seems that treatment of FEP may help to delay or restore neurocognitive deterioration, it is unclear whether specific areas of neurocognitive deterioration (e.g. verbal domain) would benefit from more time or specific treatment approaches.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.