Koelkebeck K, Abdel-Hamid M, Ohrmann P, Brüne M
Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr 2008 Oct;76(10):573-82
The term Theory of Mind (ToM) refers to the capacity to infer one's own and other persons' mental states. A substantial body of research has highlighted impaired ToM in a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia. There is good empirical evidence that ToM is specifically impaired in schizophrenia and that many psychotic symptoms--for instance, delusions of alien control and persecution--may best be understood in light of a disturbed capacity in patients to relate their own intentions to executing behavior, and to monitor others' intentions. However, it is still under debate if impaired ToM in schizophrenia is a state- or trait marker and whether patients could benefit from cognitive training in this domain. Recently, research has not only emphasized social cognitive deficits in patients, but has also focussed on interactions between ToM with language and other cognitive functions. Furthermore, interest in subprocesses of social cognition in psychotic spectrum disorders (e. g. schizotypy) is growing. The aim of this article is to line out clinical aspects of disturbed social cognition, to clarify terms used in this context as well as to present the latest research approaches into social cognition deficits.