Cognitive, clinical, and functional characteristics of verbally superior schizophrenia patients.
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The existence of small numbers of schizophrenia patients with superior ability in specific cognitive domains is implied by meta-analytic evidence as well as by occasional empirical reports. The authors identified 25 patients with superior (i.e., > or =90th percentile) ability on the Vocabulary subtest of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale 3rd edition (Wechsler, 1997). These cognitively advantaged patients were compared with 22 healthy participants performing at the superior level and with 126 schizophrenia patients and 50 healthy participants scoring below the superior range. Verbally superior schizophrenia patients and verbally superior healthy participants had similar cognitive profiles and life skills performance, but diverged markedly in terms of independent "real-world" functioning. Verbally superior patients significantly outperformed more typical patients in other aspects of cognitive performance, life skills, and support requirements. However, severity of positive and negative symptoms was equivalent in the patient groups. Detailed biobehavioral study of cognitively exceptional patients may offer new insights into mechanisms mediating psychotic disorders.
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