Robust deficits in cognitive functioning are present in people with psychosis and are evident in the early stages of the disorder. Impairments in verbal memory and verbal fluency are reliably seen in individuals at clinical high-risk for psychosis (CHR) compared to healthy populations. As previous studies have shown a relationship between cognition and longer-term outcomes in schizophrenia, the aim of this paper was to explore whether verbal memory and verbal fluency performance predicted outcomes in a large CHR sample recruited as part of the EU-GEI High Risk Study. Participants included 316 CHR individuals, 90.8% of whom were not currently on antipsychotic medication, and 60 healthy controls. Verbal memory and verbal fluency performance were measured at baseline. At two-year follow-up, CHR individuals were assessed by three different outcome measures, those who did and did not (1) transition to psychosis, (2) experience burdening impairment or disabilities, or (3) remit clinically from CHR status. Individuals with CHR displayed significant verbal memory and verbal fluency deficits at baseline compared to healthy controls (Hedges' g effect size = 0.24 to 0.66). There were no significant differences in cognitive performance of those who did and did not transition to psychosis. However, impaired immediate verbal recall predicted both functional disability and non-remission from the CHR state. Results remained significant when analyses were restricted to only include antipsychotic-free CHR participants. These findings may inform the development of early interventions designed to improve cognitive deficits in the early stages of psychosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100222
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research: Cognition
Early online date28 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • Cognition
  • Early intervention
  • Prodrome
  • Transition
  • Verbal fluency


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