Antipsychotic medications spur surprisingly little improvement in the mental prowess of people with chronic schizophrenia, a national investigation finds. Patients who were prescribed any of several new antipsychotic drugs, often touted as effective at boosting thinking skills in people with schizophrenia, displayed only modest increases in mental agility during the first 6 months of treatment.
The drugs' effects were no better than the effects of an older antipsychotic substance, according to a team led by psychologist Richard S.E. Keefe of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
After 18 months, patients receiving the older drug actually showed slightly more improvement on a battery of learning, memory, attention, and reasoning tests than did patients getting the newer antipsychotics, the scientists report in the June Archives of General Psychiatry.
The study's volunteers, ages 18 to 65, had been taking antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenia at cl