Thought Disorder in Offspring of Schizophrenic Parents: Findings From the New York High-Risk Project

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Abstract

The goal of the present analyses was to examine the hypothesis that mild forms of thought disorder (TD) may serve as an indicator of genetic liability for schizophrenia. A subset of 232 subjects drawn from the New York High-Risk Project was used to compare individuals at high risk for schizophrenia (ie, offspring of parents with schizophrenia; n = 63) with 2 groups of individuals at low risk for schizophrenia (ie, offspring of parents with affective disorder [n = 52] and offspring of psychiatrically normal parents [n = 117]). Subjects were administered the Rorschach Inkblot Test, and their responses were assessed according to the Thought Disorder Index (TDI). The high-risk offspring displayed significantly more TD than the other 2 groups, as shown by significantly higher TDI scores. Moreover, they had more deviant verbalizations, according to their significantly higher scores on a composite Idiosyncratic Verbalizations score. As expected, the offspring who developed psychosis produced more TD in adolescence than those who did not develop psychosis. In the sample as a whole, TD scores during late adolescence/early adulthood were positively associated with schizotypal features during mid-adulthood. These findings support the assertion that the presence of TD serves as an endophenotypic marker of a schizophrenia diathesis.

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