Category: Schizophrenia / Psychotic Disorders

Symposium

African Americans With Schizophrenia and Social Cognition

Saturday, November 18
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Location: Aqua Salon E & F, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: African Americans | Cognitive Processes | Race / Ethnicity
Presentation Type: Symposium

Social cognition is a key predictor of functional outcomes in schizophrenia. The Social Cognition Psychometric Evaluation (SCOPE) study was launched in 2012, to determine the “gold standard” social cognitive measures to be used in clinical trials of schizophrenia. In an early iteration of the SCOPE battery, African American controls and patients performed worse than Caucasians on several tasks. However, two studies suggest that racial factors (e.g., racial diversity of stimuli, perceived racism) may inflate cross-race differences found in the SCOPE battery. Given that African Americans are about twice as likely as Caucasians to receive diagnoses of schizophrenia, this is an important area for further exploration.


The current study examines the final iteration of the SCOPE battery, in order to determine a) whether there are still racial differences in social cognitive task performance; b) if neurocognition mediates any noted differences; c) how racial differences in social cognition affect functional outcomes; and d) whether perceived racism and racial identity predict within-race variation of African Americans in social cognitive performance.


Data collection was recently completed on a sample of 202 individuals with schizophrenia (87 African American, 115 Caucasian) and 142 controls (62 African American, 80 Caucasian). The social cognitive tasks assess theory of mind, emotion perception, and attributional style. Neurocognitive assessments include estimates of premorbid IQ and current ability. Functional outcome measures include self-report, performance-based, and informant assessments. A subset of African American participants completed measures of perceived racism and racial identity.


 African American controls and patients performed significantly worse than Caucasians on the majority of social cognitive tasks. Further analyses will be completed by October 2017. These will examine how race affects the relationship between neurocognition and social cognition, and between social cognition performance and functional outcomes, as well as how perceived racism and racial identity predict within-race variation in social cognition.


This is one of the first studies to examine racial differences in social cognition, and will provide insight into the cross-cultural validity of the SCOPE battery. Discussion will focus on whether racial discrepancies result from cultural biases in the SCOPE tasks and neurocognitive measures, versus actual racial differences in latent ability.

Arundati Nagendra

Ph.D. Student
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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