In this short essay on the cognitive neuropsychology of schizophrenia I have considered only a very small fraction of the research on schizophrenia. The scope of my essay is indicated accurately by my rather unwieldy title. I have concentrated on the psychological aspects of schizophrenia and say little about medical, epidemiological or sociological aspects. There are many books covering these topics .
Even within psychology I have restricted myself to a limited domain defined by the term “cognitive”. My aim has been to describe the information processing abnormalities that underlie specific signs and symptoms associated with schizophrenia. I have therefore ignored many studies that have investigated psychological abnormalities associated with “schizophrenia” without consideration of particular symptoms. Much important work has been carried out on arousal, attention, memory and reaction time, but I have not discussed it here. These more general psychological studies of schizophrenia are thoroughly covered in John Cutting’s book The Psychology of Schizophrenia .
The cognitive approach in psychology is essentially theory driven. Theories are first presented, preferably in the form of “box and arrow” diagrams, then detailed hypotheses are derived and tested experimentally. I have adopted precisely this approach in my considerations of the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia. As this is a relatively new approach to schizophrenia, the result is stronger on hypotheses than it is on experimental evidence. However, my main intention in writing this essay is to convince the reader of the necessity for a cognitive approach to schizophrenic symptoms. My ideal reader will then go out and seek experimental evidence relevant to those hypotheses that he or she finds most interesting.
While I have only covered a fraction of the research on the psychology of schizophrenia, I have paid rather more attention than is usual in psychological essays to the brain. One of the fundamental assumptions of cognitive neuropsychology is that the behaviour and experience of brain-damaged patients can provide important information about the nature of the independent cognitive modules that underlie normal behaviour and experience. Given this assumption, it is, of course, perfectly possible for fruitful discussions about the nature of cognitive processes to proceed without any consideration of the nature of the associated brain systems.
However, I believe that the study of people with brain damage may also help to map cognitive modules onto particular brain systems. Given this assumption, it is possible to use cognitive neuropsychology to give clues to the nature of the brain abnormalities associated with schizophrenia. This may be hopelessly optimistic, but I believe it is worthwhile to make the attempt. Furthermore, I believe that, over the next ten years, technical advances in functional brain imaging will make this approach to schizophrenia seem sound common sense rather than naive optimism.
Size: 8 mb
Free download Cognitive Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia