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Original Research

Prospective Memory Influences Social Functioning in People With First-Episode Schizophrenia: A Network Analysis and Longitudinal Study

Simon S. Y. Lui, PhD, FRCPsycha,b,‡,*; Rui-Ting Zhang, PhDc,d,e,f,‡; Wilson Y. S. Lau, FHKCPsychb; Amy C. Y. Liu, FRCPsychb; William W. H. Chui, FHKCPsychb; Ya Wang, PhDc,d; Kirby C. M. Tsang, MSScb; Hera K. H. Yeung, BSScb; Eric F. C. Cheung, FRCPsychb; and Raymond C. K. Chan, PhDc,d,*

Published: February 8, 2022


Background: Prospective memory (PM) impairment is associated with impaired social functioning, but evidence is limited to chronic schizophrenia samples and cross-sectional design. The aim of this study was to utilize network analysis to address the complex interplay between PM, psychopathology, and functional outcome.

Methods: This longitudinal study recruited 119 people with first-episode DSM-IV schizophrenia and followed up with them for 2 to 6 years. PM and working memory were assessed at baseline (in 2010–2015) using valid computerized tasks and the Letter-Number Span Test, respectively. Psychopathology and social functioning were assessed at endpoint (in 2016–2017) using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale (SOFAS), respectively. Network analysis examined the effect of baseline PM on SOFAS while accounting for the effects of psychopathology.

Results: The resultant network showed that social functioning, PANSS positive symptoms, and PANSS general symptoms clustered together, whereas time-based and event-based PM and working memory formed another cluster. Time-based PM linked event-based PM and working memory with social functioning. Time-based PM (expected influence [EI] = 0.69), event-based PM (EI = 0.65), and working memory (EI = 0.83) demonstrated high values of expected influence, but social functioning (variance explained = 0.685) and PANSS negative (variance explained = 0.657) and general (variance explained = 0.583) subscales demonstrated high values of predictability.

Conclusions: Time-based PM is the central node linking neurocognitive functions with social functioning. PM and working memory are “target” nodes for interventions bringing changes to the network, whereas social functioning and psychopathology are “malleable” nodes. PM and working memory are promising intervention targets for functional recovery in schizophrenia.

Volume: 83

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