Cognitive and functional deficits in people with schizophrenia: Evidence for accelerated or exaggerated aging?

Philip D. Harvey, Jennifer B. Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Cognitive and functional deficits are commonly seen in people with schizophrenia. The profile of these impairments has a resemblance to the cognitive changes seen in healthy aging. In specific, many of the cognitive ability domains that change the most with aging in healthy people are the most salient of these deficits seen in people with schizophrenia, including prominent deficits in processing speed, working memory, and episodic memory. Functional deficits seen in schizophrenia are also similar to those seen in healthy aging. There is a relationship between multiple psychotic relapses and treatment resistance and longitudinal cognitive and functional changes in schizophrenia, with this relationship starting early in the course of illness. Cognitive performance in people with schizophrenia may be consistent with accelerated or premature aging. People with schizophrenia perform similarly to healthy people who are 3 or more decades older on indices of both cognition and their everyday functional skills. Some people with schizophrenia show exaggerated cognitive changes as well. Cognitive and functional performance worsens at the outset of the illness in schizophrenia compared to premorbid functioning, meaning that these deficits are not due to development disabilities. There are multiple medical and substance abuse comorbidities in schizophrenia and although these comorbidities affect cognitive functioning, they are not completely responsible for age-related changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-21
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Jun 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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