Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 39  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 250-253

Neurocognitive impairments in unaffected first-degree relatives of schizophrenia

Department of Psychiatry, Translational Psychiatry Laboratory, The Schizophrenia Clinic, Neurobiology Research Centre, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Ganesan Venkatasubramanian
Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru - 560 029, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7176.207335

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Background: Neurocognitive impairments of attention and executive functioning are trait abnormalities in schizophrenia, and these are considered to be endophenotypes. These deficits have been convincingly linked to prefrontal cortical functioning. In this study, we examined the cognitive performance in the domains of attention and executive functioning among first-degree relatives of Indian people with schizophrenia (high-risk [HR] patients) compared to healthy controls (HC). Materials and Methods: Siblings of patients with DSM-IV schizophrenia, HR patients (n = 17), were compared with HC (n = 30) (matched as a group for age, sex, years of education, and handedness) using the following neurocognitive tests for attention and executive function – digit span test (DST), trail making test, letter-number sequencing (LNS), and spatial span test. Results: HR patients had significantly deficient performance in attention and executive function tasks (DST-forward [P < 0.001], DST-backward [P < 0.001], spatial span-forward [P < 0.001], spatial span-backward [P < 0.001], and LNS [P < 0.001]). Conclusions: This study replicates the findings that neurocognitive deficits involving executive function task performance, attention, and working memory, which are considered as principal features in patients with schizophrenia, are also significantly present in the first-degree relatives of patients. Thus, these neurocognitive parameters can be considered as potential endophenotypes in schizophrenia.

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