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Dissociating medication effects from learning and practice effects in a neurocognitive study of schizophrenia: Olanzapine versus haloperidol.

Author(s): Boulay LJ, Labelle A, Bourget D, Robertson S, Habib R, Tessier P, Tombaugh T, Milin R

Affiliation(s): University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, Royal Ottawa Hospital. Ottawa, Ontario. Canada.

Publication date & source: 2007-07, Cogn Neuropsychiatry., 12(4):322-38.

Publication type: Comparative Study; Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

OBJECTIVE: To contrast the effect of a typical antipsychotic (haloperidol) and an atypical antipsychotic (olanzapine) on neurocognitive functioning in schizophrenia when learning and practice (LP) effects are controlled. METHODS: Two groups of participants were recruited, 27 schizophrenia patients in their first 5 years of illness and 13 normal controls. Prior to double-blind randomisation, all subjects were assessed on four occasions within 5 days (prerandomisation period) on the same neurocognitive battery. Repeated assessment prior to randomisation was chosen as a method to control for LP effects. Patients were then randomised to 56 days of treatment with haloperidol or olanzapine (postrandomisation). All subjects were assessed on neurocognitive measures at Days 28 and 56. RESULTS: LP effects were present during the prerandomisation period on motor tasks, verbal and visual short-term memory, attention, and on a measure of verbal working memory. There were no changes in performance for patients randomised to treatment with olanzapine or haloperidol or the normal control group during the postrandomisation period. CONCLUSIONS: Once LP effects are controlled, olanzapine and haloperidol do not affect performance on measures of motor functioning, verbal short-term memory, attention, verbal working memory, reaction time, visuospatial short-term memory, and visual working memory beyond that observed from LP effects.

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