Impaired attention and learning functions are common in schizophrenia. The details of this impairment, and how these change across time, are not well known. We aimed to compare the parameters of well-known attention and learning neuropsychological tests in first-episode schizophrenia (FES) patients and healthy controls in a 2-year follow-up period. The performance of 28-25 FES patients and pairwise matched healthy controls on the Continuous Performance Test-Identical Pairs, the revised Hopkins Verbal Learning Test, and the revised Brief Visuospatial Memory Test was compared at baseline and 2 years later. The attention dysfunction of the FES group was driven by slow reaction time and a comparative failure to identify correct hits. The reaction time was reduced somewhat across time in the patient group. Regarding the learning tasks, both groups increased their number of correct answers across trials. However, at each trial, the patient group exhibited lower scores, with a trend towards better visual learning performance across time. In summary, the FES patients were impaired in most of the parameters of the attention and learning tasks. Across time, modest improvements in reaction time and visual learning were displayed in the FES group. However, this group never caught up with the control group.
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