The term social cognition was coined during the so-called “cognitive revolution” that took place between the late 1960s and early 1970s (Sperry, 1993). However, the study of social cognition in schizophrenia stands out for having had a strong expansion throughout the 1990s that continues to increase today.
As Ruiz, García and Fuentes (2006) point out, despite the large number of definitions that can be found on social cognition, the different investigations that have been explored in the field of schizophrenia coincide in that the social cognitive processes involved have to do, on the one hand, with the elaboration of inferences on the intentions and beliefs of other people and, on the other hand, with the assessment of the influence of situational factors when making these inferences. This conception gives social cognition a mediating role between neurocognition and the community functioning of the individual.
Although social cognition is understood as a delimited construct different from neurocognition and the functioning of the individual, it is not totally detached from these, encompassing different components, being the following (Brekke et al, 2005; Green and Nuechterlerlein, 1999; Green and al, 2005; Penn et al, 2005):
- Emotional processing
- Theory of the mind
- Social perception/knowledge
- Attributional Style
Current research on social cognition in schizophrenia pursues different goals, among them (Green and Horan, 2010):
- To understand the role of social cognition in the functioning of subjects.
- Understand the development of some symptoms of schizophrenia such as paranoia.
- To examine whether deficits in social cognition are constituted as a trait or as a state, observing the evolution of these deficits throughout the different phases of the disease or in samples of subjects at high risk of developing the pathology.
- To apply different methods to identify the neurological substrates that directly influence the processing of social information.
- Generate and evaluate different interventions, both psychopharmacological and psychosocial, that allow improvements in deficits in social cognition.
Social Cognition by Authors: Social Cognition Studies
Although research on deficits in social cognition has been directed mainly at those subjects diagnosed with schizophrenia with long evolution, some studies have focused on exploring these same deficits in patients with short evolution, finding that these subjects also present them.
Furthermore, in patients, these deficits are relatively stable, occurring both in acute phases and throughout all phases of the disease and in remission phases. These findings have led us to believe that deficits in social cognition in schizophrenia would not simply be the result of the side effects of pharmacological treatment or the different clinical episodes, but would be nuclear deficits specific to this disease that arise at the onset of the disease and subsequently remain stable (Green et al, 2012; Green and Horan, 2010; Horan et al, 2012).
- Brekke, J. S., Kay, D. D., Lee, K. S., y Green, M. F. (2005). Biosocial pathways to functional outcome in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 80(2), 213-235.
- Green, M. F., Bearden, C. E., Cannon, T. D., Fiske, A. P., Hellemann, G. S., Horan, W. P.,… y Nuechterlein, K. H. (2012). Social cognition in schizophrenia, part 1: performance across phase of illness. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 38(4), 854-864.
- Green, M. F., y Horan, W. P. (2010). Social cognition in schizophrenia. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19(4), 243-248.
- Green, M. F., y Nuechterlein, K. H. (1999). Should schizophrenia be treated as neurocognitive disorder? Schizophrenia Bulletin, 25(2), 309-319.
- Green, M. F., Olivier, B., Crawley, J. N., Penn, D. L., y Silverstein, S. (2005). Social cognition in schizophrenia: recommendations from the measurement and treatment research to improve cognition in schizophrenia new approaches conference. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 31(4), 882-887.
- Horan, W. P., Green, M. F., DeGroot, M., Fiske, A., Hellemann, G., Kee, K.,… y Nuechterlein, K.H. (2012). Social cognition in schizophrenia, part 2: 12-month stability and prediction of functional outcome in first- episode patients. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 38(4), 865-872.
- Penn, D. L., Roberts, D. L., Munt, E. D., Silverstein, E., Jones, N., y Sheitman, B. (2005). A pilot study of Social Cognition and Interaction Training (SCIT) for schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 80(2-3), 357-359.
- Ruiz, J. C., García, S., y Fuentes, I. (2006). La relevancia de la cognición social en la esquizofrenia. Apuntes de Psicología, 24(1-3), 137-155
- Sperry, R. W. (1993). The impact and promise of the cognitive revolution. American Psychologist, 48(8), 878-885