Theory of mind and neurocognition in early psychosis: a quasi-experimental study

Langdon, Robyn, Connors, Michael H., Still, Megan, Ward, Philip B. and Catts, Stanley (2014) Theory of mind and neurocognition in early psychosis: a quasi-experimental study. BMC Psychiatry, 14 316: 1-7. doi:10.1186/s12888-014-0316-6

Author Langdon, Robyn
Connors, Michael H.
Still, Megan
Ward, Philip B.
Catts, Stanley
Title Theory of mind and neurocognition in early psychosis: a quasi-experimental study
Journal name BMC Psychiatry   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1471-244X
Publication date 2014-12-04
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/s12888-014-0316-6
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 14
Issue 316
Start page 1
End page 7
Total pages 7
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract

People with chronic psychosis often display theory of mind impairments that are not fully accounted for by other, more general neurocognitive deficits. In these patients, both theory of mind and neurocognitive deficits contribute to poor functioning, independently of psychotic symptoms. In young people with recent-onset psychosis, however, it is unclear the extent to which theory of mind impairment is independent of neurocognitive deficits. The primary aim of this study was to examine the evidence for specific theory of mind impairments in early psychosis. A secondary aim was to explore the relations between theory of mind, neurocognition, symptom severity, and functional outcomes.


Twenty-three patients who were within two years of their first psychotic episode and 19 healthy controls completed theory of mind and neurocognitive batteries. Social functioning, quality of life, and symptom severity were also assessed in patients.


Patients demonstrated deficits in tasks assessing theory of mind and neurocognition relative to controls. Patients’ deficits in theory of mind were evident even after adjusting for their deficits in neurocognition. Neither theory of mind nor neurocognition predicted social functioning or quality of life in this early psychosis sample. Severity of negative symptoms, however, was a significant predictor of both outcomes.


While a specific theory of mind impairment was evident in this early psychosis sample, severity of negative symptoms emerged as the best predictor of poor functional outcome. Further early psychosis research is needed to examine the longitudinal progression of theory of mind impairments – independent of neurocognitive deficits – and their impact on psychosocial function.
Keyword Early psychosis
First episode psychosis
Occupational functioning
Quality of life
Social functioning
Theory of mind
Social cognition
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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