Emotional Processing Profile in Patients with First Episode Schizophrenia: The Influence of Neurocognition

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This study sought to investigate the influence of neurocognition on the emotional processing profiles of patients with first-episode schizophrenia, using the 4-branch Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) (Perceiving Emotions; Facilitating Emotions; Understanding Emotions and Managing Emotions). A sample of 78 patients with first-episode schizophrenia and a group of 90 non-psychiatric control subjects were included in this work. The initial results showed that patients had lower scores than controls for the “Understanding Emotions” and “Managing Emotions” MSCEIT branches. However, after controlling for neurocognition, the only deficits were found on the “Managing Emotions” branch of the MSCEIT. This branch can be considered as measuring a more sophisticated level of emotional processing, which may constitute a deficit in itself. In conclusion, patients with first-episode schizophrenia present deficits in social cognition at the highest level that seem to be independent from neurocognition. These findings support the inclusion of the “Managing Emotions” branch of the MSCEIT as part of the MCCB.