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Cognition

How is cognition in families related to schizophrenia? 

Cognitive deficits have been reported in people with schizophrenia. Deficits in memory, attention and executive functioning are most commonly reported, with lesser degree of dysfunction in perceptual and language processes. Cognitive deficits are present early in the course of the disorder and are stable over time, and may be heritable. First-degree relatives of people with schizophrenia may show attenuated signs of cognitive deficits. If cognitive deficits found in people with schizophrenia are also found in their relatives, this may be suggestive of the underlying genetic basis. This is particularly informative in disorders that display complex inheritance patterns such as schizophrenia.

What is the evidence for cognition in first-degree relatives?

High quality evidence shows small to medium-sized effects of poor executive functioning (including tasks of attention and language), poor visual memory, verbal memory, short-term and long-term episodic memory, and social cognition (Theory of Mind) in relatives of people with schizophrenia compared to people without schizophrenia. Moderate to high quality evidence suggests small to medium-sized effects of lower IQ and slower processing speed, and moderate quality evidence suggests poorer psychomotor and visuospatial ability in relatives compared to people without schizophrenia.

Compared to relatives of people with bipolar disorder, moderate to high quality evidence suggests relatives of people with schizophrenia show small to medium-sized effects of poorer performance on IQ, verbal memory, working memory, processing speed, verbal fluency, and accuracy on executive functioning tasks.

Also see the Signs and Symptoms cognition topics.

October 2018

Page last updated: 4:03  14 October 2018

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