The advance of social neurosciences is by and large dependent on the circumscription and measure of specific social-cognitive competencies. The importance of accurate neuropsychological tests emerges in this context as a decisive step to the evolution of the field as a whole. This paper has three interconnected goals: to shed light into a previously unreported social cognitive dimension and to introduce a software-based, multilingual neuropsychological test to assess and quantify performance under it; to validate the test for neurocognitive assessment in schizophrenia and to establish brain correlates of differences in performance in a cohort of patients with schizophrenia. The competence under consideration is called social memory and this relates to the ability to recall social information. Its conceptual validity stems from differences in performance when recalling human (H) vs. non-human figures (NH). The new test is called social memory test (SMT). Here we present the validation of SMT and its application to assess brain correlates of performance in a cohort of medicated adult patients with schizophrenia using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Cronbach’s α was above 0.7 on the clinical sample, and above 0.58 on the control group. Results suggest that the test is a reliable instrument to assess social memory in schizophrenia, and that performance is correlated to visual memory and social cognition. Neuroimaging results warrant an important role to Heschl´s gyrus, thus suggesting that semantic processingis chiefly tied to this social-cognitive competence.
Key words: Social memory, neuropsychological assessment, social cognition, schizophrenia, DTI.
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