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The effect of psychopathology on set shifting and reversal learning in schizophrenia


Recent studies suggest that negative and disorganized symptoms of schizophrenia are modestly associated with cognitive deficits, whereas positive and depressive symptoms are not.

Materials and methods

27 patients with schizophrenia were tested on an intra-dimensional/extra-dimensional set-shifting (IEDS) task of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) in an acute psychiatric ward. Their psychopathological state was assessed with PANSS and the Calgary Depression Scale. Correlation analysis was used to examine the association of psychopathology with set shifting and reversal learning performance.


We found significant positive correlations of PANSS total (rho = 0.53, p = 0.016) and general (rho = 0.590, p = 0.006) scores with the intra-dimensional reversal errors in IEDS. No significant correlations of IEDS performance variables with the PANSS positive or negative symptoms scores were found. PANSS disorganization scores showed positive correlations with intra-dimensional reversal errors (rho = 0.639, p = 0.002), but a small negative correlation with the number of completed IEDS stages (rho = -0.392, p = 0.043). No association was detected between depressive symptoms and IEDS task performance.


We found modest associations between symptomatology and the intra-dimensional reversal ability in schizophrenia. These associations are mainly driven by disorganization symptoms. Positive, negative and depressive symptoms are not associated with IEDS performance.


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dimitrios Kontis.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Theochari, E., Kontis, D., Kleisas, S. et al. The effect of psychopathology on set shifting and reversal learning in schizophrenia. Ann Gen Psychiatry 9, S126 (2010).

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  • Depressive Symptom
  • Schizophrenia
  • Reversal Learning
  • Small Negative Correlation
  • Test Automate Battery