The Stability of Inhibitory and Working Memory Deficits in Children and Adolescents Who Are Children of Parents With Schizophrenia

Schizophr Bull. 2008 Jan;34(1):47-51. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbm104. Epub 2007 Sep 14.


Cognitive deficits are a central feature of schizophrenia and occur in first-degree relatives of schizophrenic probands, even in the absence of psychotic symptoms. A number of cognitive domains have been implicated including measures of response inhibition and working memory. While the stability of cognitive deficits has been demonstrated in individuals with schizophrenia, stability of deficits has not been explored in first-degree relatives. This report focuses on 25 children (ages 6-15 years), all with at least one schizophrenic parent. The children were assessed twice, utilizing inhibitory and working memory tasks, with a mean 2.6 years between visits. Stop reaction time (a measure of motor inhibition) and performance on a counting span task (a measure of verbal working memory) were borderline to mildly impaired (compared with a typically developing comparison group) at both visits with similar effect sizes (stopping task time 1, effect size = 0.46, time 2 effect size = 0.50; counting span time 1 effect size = 0.53, time 2 effect size = 0.42). For these 2 tasks, individual age-adjusted scores also correlated across both time points (r = 0.41-0.76) suggesting that individual children maintained deficits across time. As etiologically driven strategies are developed for the cognitive deficits of schizophrenia, expansion of these treatments to relatives who share the cognitive but not the psychotic symptoms may be worth exploring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reaction Time
  • Schizophrenia, Childhood / epidemiology*
  • Severity of Illness Index