There is evidence in the literature that cognitive functions in schizophrenia (SC) may be improved by atypical neuroleptics (NLPs) in contrast to typical medication, but there is still controversy regarding this apparent superiority of atypical drugs. In this study, we assessed the differential effects of risperidone and haloperidol on verbal memory, attention, and psychiatric symptoms in SC. The performance of 28 SC participants, randomly assigned to risperidone (2–6 mg/day) or haloperidol (2–40 mg/day), was compared with that of healthy controls. The California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), the d2 Cancellation Test, and the Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale were administered at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months. Relative to controls, all SC participants showed markedly impaired verbal memory and processing speed at each assessment period. There was no differential effect between the two NLPs on CVLT and d2 performance. However, risperidone was more effective than haloperidol in reducing psychiatric symptoms. Improvement in symptom severity was not associated with improvement in neurocognitive performance on these specific tests. Neither conventional nor atypical neuroleptic medications improved neurocognitive functioning over a 12-month follow-up, suggesting that psychopathological improvement under risperidone is independent of cognitive function. (JINS, 2008, 14, 110–118.)
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