Cognitive dysfunctions in parents of schizophrenic patients parallel the deficits found in patients

Melanie C.M. Appels, Margriet M. Sitskoorn, Paul Westers, Elleke Lems, René S. Kahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Schizophrenia is characterized by a global cognitive impairment, with varying degrees of deficit in all ability domains. Since genetic factors are important in the etiology of schizophrenia we investigated whether parents of schizophrenic patients also show cognitive deficits, particularly on those cognitive ability domains that are most severely affected in patients. Both biological parents of 37 patients with schizophrenia (N=74 subjects) and 28 comparable healthy married control couples (N=56 subjects) were included. A comprehensive and standardized cognitive battery was used including tests measuring verbal memory, executive functioning, language, attention, and psychomotor functioning. Parents of patients differed from control couples on those cognitive constructs that are generally considered to be most impaired in schizophrenic patients, i.e. global verbal memory, bilateral motor skill, continuous performance, and word fluency. In addition, parents differed significantly from control couples on some other cognitive constructs on which patients show a smaller but also significant difference compared to healthy controls, i.e. unilateral motor skill and digit span. Results suggest that the cognitive constructs on which patients show relatively most severe impairment may prove suitable as endophenotypic markers in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-293
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Genotypical marker
  • Parents
  • Schizophrenia


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