Abstract

The issue of progressive cognitive decline in patients with schizophrenia has been debated. We performed a cross-sectional study of patients with chronic schizophrenia, aged from 18 to 69 years, in order to address this issue. The patients included in this study passed a rigorous screen for any comorbid condition with an adverse impact on central nervous system function. We assessed intellectual deterioration with a battery of neuropsychological tests known to be sensitive to cognitive impairment in progressive dementia. No evidence of accelerated intellectual decline was found. No significant differences were found between the five age-derived cohorts (18-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60-69 years of age) on the Mini-Mental State Examination, Dementia Rating Scale, or other tests sensitive to dementia. While performance on the Boston Naming Test significantly declined with age, this was mainly due to age rather than duration of illness. However, it is important to note that mean performances on the majority of the tests were abnormal across all cohorts studied. These results suggest that intellectual function does not markedly decline during the adulthood of patients with schizophrenia. The course of schizophrenia is more consistent with a static encephalopathy than a dementing disorder.