Neuroleptic drug effects on cognitive function in schizophrenia
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Neuropsychological test performance was compared in 37 neuroleptic treated DSM-III schizophrenic patients, 27 untreated schizophrenic patients, and 27 normal controls. Neuroleptic treated patients performed significantly less well than untreated patients at recalling a complex figure, at planning on a mazes test, and had poorer fine motor coordination. Controls and untreated patients performed equally well on these tests. The results were not altered in 16 neuroleptic treated patients who had been prescribed low doses of benztropine, nor 38 patients who reported prior substance abuse. Similar cognitive impairments are observed in Parkinson's disease and are associated with dopaminergic antagonist drugs in schizophrenics. Therefore, they do not comprise part of the Schizophrenic Deficit State. Two tests were better performed by controls than patients. Reaction time was slower and more variable in both treated and untreated patient groups than controls. The recall of paraphrased passages was significantly poorer in both patient groups than controls, a finding that is robust in subgroups matched for IQ. Neuroleptic treatment was associated with significantly better performance on this test.
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