Elementary Neurocognition, Learning Potential, and Functional Life Skills: What is the Relationship
Abstract.................................................................................3 Elementary Neurocognition 2 Acknowledgements I would like to thank my advisor, Matthew Kurtz for his constant support and enthusiasm for the project. Without such a dedicated mentor, the project would have been much less manageable. Professor Jennifer Rose was also an integral part of my thesis team. With her help, I was able to find the statistical tools I needed to carry out my desired plan. I would
... like to thank my family and friends for patiently hearing the word schizophrenia over and over again over the course of the past year and also for being excellent distractions when breaks were needed. Elementary Neurocognition 3 Abstract Introduction: Elementary neurocognitive measures (e.g., attention, memory, problem-solving) explain 20-60% of the variance in functional life skills for patients with schizophrenia. Learning potential (LP) is a construct that has been hypothesized to explains an additional portion of that variance. LP is unique because it focuses on what the individual is capable of learning rather than what he or she currently knows (Vygotsky, 1978) . Learning potential has been a major focus of current neuropsychological research in schizophrenia; studies have compared the characteristics of patients with different levels of learning potential, tested whether LP is related to outcome, and included it into models with elementary cognitive deficits and outcome. The present study will investigate whether LP moderates the relationship between elementary neurocognitive function and outcome. It is hypothesized that for patients with higher LP, the correlation between cognitive deficits and outcome will be weaker than for those with a low LP. Methods: 151 clinically stable outpatients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder were administered a neuropsychological battery including elementary measures of attention, working and verbal memory, problem solving and processing speed. Two measures of learning potential were also used: the CVLT and an adapted version of the WCST. Results: Pearson correlations showed elementary neurocognitive function was related to outcome, which replicates previous results. Both learning potential measures were also related to the outcome measure. Analyses revealed that learning potential was a moderator of the relationship between processing speed and everyday life skills, at least in models containing processing speed and working memory. The moderating effect was such that the correlation between neurocognition and functional life skills was stronger for individuals with a high LP versus those with a lower LP. Regression analysis revealed no evidence that measures of LP explained additional variance in everyday life skill beyond that explained by elementary neuropsychological function Discussion: LP was not found to be a moderator of the relationship between neurocognition and functional life skills, except in the model containing processing speed. In that case, the direction of the moderating effect was different than initially hypothesized. In hierarchical regression analysis LP did not explain a significant amount of the variance in everyday life skills above and beyond neurocognition.