Impaired executive functioning is found in a considerable proportion of schizophrenia patients. Neuropsychological tests are originally designed to measure the behavior of neurological patients and may therefore miss psychiatry-related cognitive deficits. Qualitative information on tests for executive functioning is important in psychiatric populations. The Modified Six Elements Test (MSET) is a planning test that consists of 6 tasks, for which subjects have limited time and have to obey to switching rules. This study concerns a qualitatively different approach schizophrenia patients use on the MSET, and its relationship with cognitive measures. MSET scores and strategies of schizophrenia patients were compared to those of healthy controls, closed-head-injury patients, and peripheral injury patients. Also, schizophrenia patients and healthy controls were compared on verbal memory and vigilance. Schizophrenia patients finish fewer assignments on the MSET, receive a lower profile score compared to healthy controls, and use a different strategy on the test compared to the other groups. They also perform below healthy controls on the tests for verbal memory and vigilance. Use of the different strategy in schizophrenia patients was related to impaired cognitive functioning. An interesting strategy used by schizophrenia patients on the MSET appears to be indicative of impaired cognitive functioning. This strategy may be a compensatory strategy to spare cognitive resources. It could also be the result of a concrete interpretation of the test instructions.
- DYSEXECUTIVE SYNDROME
- NEGATIVE SYMPTOMS