'Theory' of mind impairment in patients affected by schizophrenia and in their parents

S. Anselmetti, M. Bechi, M. Bosia, C. Quarticelli, E. Ermoli, E. Smeraldi, R. Cavallaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


"Theory of mind" (ToM) is the ability to judge the mental states of the self and others. It is currently considered as a part of the broader concept of social cognition, known to influence the social behaviour of patients affected by schizophrenia. Recently it has been hypothesized that the impairment of ToM is a trait that can be detected both in patients with schizophrenia and in non-psychotic relatives of patients, but it still not clear what the contribution of the familial patterns of cognitive impairment is. The aim of this study is to assess parental impairments of ToM performance considering the effects of the neurocognitive abilities known to be impaired in their first-degree relatives and to influence ToM in schizophrenic patients. Patients, their parents and control trios were assessed with the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), the Symbol Coding Task and the ToM Picture Sequencing Task. The ANCOVA analysis on 47 trios including a schizophrenic offspring and 47 healthy trios showed a statistically significant poorer performance of patients and their parents in comparison to control trios at Symbol Coding Task and ToM task. Moreover a regression analysis showed that the neuropsychological abilities tested were significant predictors of ToM performance only in patients. Results confirm a ToM impairment among parents of patients with schizophrenia that is not directly correlated to other aspects of neurocognitive functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-285
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • 'Theory' of mind
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Parents
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of ''Theory' of mind impairment in patients affected by schizophrenia and in their parents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this