Introduction: Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder with multiple psychopathological domains being affected. Several lines of evidence indicate that cognitive impairment serves as the key component of schizophrenia psychopathology. Although there have been a multitude of cognitive studies in schizophrenia, there are many conflicting results. We reasoned that this could be due to individual differences among the patients (i.e. variation in the severity of positive vs. negative symptoms), different task designs, and/or the administration of different antipsychotics.
Methods: We thus review existing data concentrating on these dimensions, specifically in relation to dopamine function. We focus on most commonly used cognitive domains: learning, working memory, and attention.
Results: We found that the type of cognitive domain under investigation, medication state and type, and severity of positive and negative symptoms can explain the conflicting results in the literature.
Conclusions: This review points to future studies investigating individual differences among schizophrenia patients in order to reveal the exact relationship between cognitive function, clinical features, and antipsychotic treatment.