Genetically predisposed offspring with schizotypal features: An ultra high-risk group for schizophrenia?

Vaibhav A. Diwadkar, Debra M. Montrose, Diana Dworakowski, John A. Sweeney, Matcheri S. Keshavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Biomarkers proposed in the schizophrenia diathesis have included neurocognitive deficits in domains such as working memory that implicate prefrontal systems. However, the relationship between these biomarkers and psychopathological markers such as schizotypy has not been systematically assessed, particularly in adolescent offspring of schizophrenia patients. Convergence between these markers may identify individuals at especially high risk for schizophrenia. In the current study the authors assessed whether functional deficits in working memory assessed using the oculomotor delayed response task (ODR) and executive function assessed using the Wisconsin Card Sort task (WCST), and structural deficits in prefrontal cortex, in the adolescent offspring of patients were predictive of schizotypy. Schizotypal offspring made more perseverative errors on the WCST (p < .002) and showed age-related deficits on the ODR task (p < .02) compared to their non-schizotypal counterparts or healthy controls. Reduced gray matter concentration in prefrontal cortex (p < .001) was also associated with schizotypy. Schizotypy in offspring of schizophrenia patients appears to be highly associated with known biomarkers of the illness such as executive function impairment and reductions in cortical gray matter. Furthermore, schizotypy appears to interact with development leading to greater impairment in working memory in schizotypal offspring closer to the typical age of onset of schizophrenia than non-schizotypal offspring. Thus, clinical and neurocognitive biomarkers of the illness appear to be highly interrelated in this sample of at-risk offspring. We propose that schizotypy may define a hyper vulnerable sub-sample among individuals genetically predisposed to schizophrenia and that future studies that attempt to assess risk may benefit from such a convergent approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-238
Number of pages9
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Biomarkers
  • Executive function
  • Gray matter
  • High risk
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Offspring
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizotypy
  • Spatial working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Genetically predisposed offspring with schizotypal features: An ultra high-risk group for schizophrenia?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this