Is executive impairment associated with schizophrenic syndromes? A meta-analysis
McKenna, P. J.
A key neuropsychological proposal in schizophrenia is that negative and disorganization symptoms are associated with different patterns of impairment on executive tasks. Reporting correlations between positive, negative or disorganization symptoms and any type of executive test were meta-analysed. The influence of moderating factors was also examined, including age, treatment and stage of illness and whether symptoms were relapsing or persistent. The magnitudes of the correlations were compared with those for general intellectual impairment. Pooled correlations between executive impairment and both negative symptoms and disorganization were significant in the small-to-moderate range. That for positive symptoms (‘reality distortion’), however, was close to zero. The pattern of correlations among different executive tests differed significantly for negative symptoms and disorganization. Patients with stable clinical pictures showed significantly higher correlations with executive impairment than those with relapsing and remitting illnesses. Both negative symptoms and disorganization also correlated significantly with general intellectual function as indexed by current IQ. Meta-analysis supports the view that negative symptoms and disorganization are associated with partially dissociable patterns of executive impairment. However, co-existent general intellectual impairment has been an important confounding factor in the studies to date.