Neuropsychological performance over time in people at high risk of developing schizophrenia and controls

Marie-Claire Whyte, Caroline Brett, Lesley K Harrison, Majella Byrne, Patrick Miller, Stephen M Lawrie, Eve C Johnstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Neuropsychological assessments of relatives of schizophrenics have shown subtle impairments in verbal memory, executive and intellectual function, which are stable in those beyond the age of maximum risk for the disorder. We sought to: (1) determine baseline neurocognitive predictors of psychosis, and (2) compare performance over time between relatives within the age of maximum risk, and controls.

METHODS: (1) and (2) were examined in 118 individuals at familial high risk of schizophrenia (HR) and 30 controls (C), using one-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) and repeated measures analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs), controlling for intelligence quotient, time between and number of assessments, and correcting for multiple comparisons.

RESULTS: HR who became ill (n = 13) performed nonsignificantly less well at baseline than HR who did not (n = 105) on a test of verbal learning (t(109) = 2.1, p = .03). Across assessments, C performed significantly better than the entire HR group on immediate (F(3,133) = 5.11, p = .002) and delayed (F(3,133) = 5.02, p = .002) story recall. There were no significant interactions of time by group.

CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest greater verbal memory impairment in HR who go on to develop schizophrenia. Stable differences between groups over time suggest a trait deficit, which is relatively unaffected by the presence of psychotic symptoms and psychosis onset. Alternatively, small numbers may have precluded detection of group by time interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-9
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number8
Early online date4 Jan 2006
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2006

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • schizophrenia
  • genetic vulnerability
  • neuropsychology
  • predictors
  • time
  • deficits


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