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D. Another Way To Test New Drugs

Narrator: This is Science Today. A common anti-psychotic drug used for treating symptoms of schizophrenia has been found to improve short term memory in some patients. Dr. Michael Green, a neuropsychologist at UCLA says since risperidone, is doing something it wasn't designed to do, it may alter the way future drugs are assessed.

Green: Right now, drugs are considered effective if they treat symptoms. But if some of the newer drugs are beginning to improve cognition, it might be that we'll start evaluating cognition as part of a process in which we evaluate the effectiveness of drugs.

Narrator: In the case of schizophrenia, Green says treating cognition is just as important as treating hallucinations.

Green: The most dramatic features of the illness, such as psychotic symptoms, are not the most important features of the illness. So the cognitive deficits, which are really more subtle are more closely related to how well someone does in the community. So, if we have a new generation of drugs that works on this, we might expect to see better functional outcome with our patients.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.