Childhood adversities and psychotic symptoms: The potential mediating or moderating role of neurocognition and social cognition

Giovanni Mansueto*, Koen Schruers, Fiammetta Cosci, Jim van Os, Behrooz Z. Alizadeh, Agna A. Bartels-Velthuis, Nico J. van Beveren, Richard Bruggeman, Wiepke Cahn, Lieuwe de Haan, Philippe Delespaul, Carin J. Meijer, Inez Myin-Germeys, Rene S. Kahn, Frederike Schirmbeck, Claudia J. P. Simons, Neeltje E. M. van Haren, Ruud van Winkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Web of Science)


Introduction: Childhood abuse and neglect are risk factors for psychotic symptoms. Early adversities may contribute to alterations in neuro/social cognition, which in turn is associated with psychosis. This study explored the possible mediating/moderating role of neuro/social cognition between childhood abuse and neglect on the one hand, and psychotic symptoms on the other.

Method: The sampling frame was 1.119 patients with a psychotic disorder. Childhood adversity was evaluated with the Dutch version of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Psychotic symptoms were assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. Verbal learning-memory, attention-vigilance, working memory, information processing speed, reasoning-problem solving were evaluated as measures of neurocognition using the Word Learning Task, the Continuous Performance Test, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale 3rd. Mentalization was evaluated as a measure of social cognition using the Hinting Task. Correlation, mediation, moderation, 95% Bias Corrected and accelerated (BCaCI) bootstrapped analyses were performed, considering possible sex differences.

Results: In male psychotic patients, attention and vigilance mediated the association between childhood neglect and negative symptoms (indirect effect: 0.18, BCaCI: 0.03-0.54), disorganization (indirect effect: 026, BCaCI: 0.05-0.61), excitement (indirect effect: 0.07, BCaCI: 0.004-0.23); mentalization mediated the association between childhood neglect and negative symptoms (indirect effect: 021. BCaCI: 0.02-051), excitement (indirect effect: 0.07, BCaCI: 0.01-0.20) disorganization (indirect effect: 0.29. BCaCI: 0.02-0.64); working memory mediated the association between childhood abuse and disorganization (indirect effect: 028, BCaCI: 0.05-0.57), excitement (indirect effect: 0.08, BCaCI: 0.01-020), emotional distress (indirect effect: 0.10, BCaCI: 0.01-027).

Discussion: In psychotic disorder, sex-specific mediation of neurocognition and mentalization may exist in the association between childhood adversity and psychotic symptoms. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-193
Number of pages11
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Childhood abuse
  • Childhood neglect
  • Social cognition
  • Neurocognition
  • MIND

Cite this