Neuropsychological Characteristics of Putative Schizotypes: A Comparative Study
Blanchard, Jack J.
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The development of strategies for the early prediction, detection, and treatment of schizophrenia, a disorder of neural origin, has been a significant aim of schizophrenia research. Understanding and predicting the pathogenesis of schizophrenia is imperative for the early intervention and possible prevention of the myriad negative outcomes associated with the disorder. The Chapman scales are used to identify individuals who show behavioral markers of the disorder, but few studies have examined the neurocognitive characteristics evidenced by those who are designated as schizotypes by those scales. The purpose of this study was to examine two groups designated as putative schizotypes by the Revised Social Anhedonia Scale (RSAS; SocAnh group) and the combined Perceptual Aberration and Magical Ideation Scales (PAS/MIS; PerMag group) in concert with neurocognitive evidence in order to determine whether the RSAS or PAS/MIS is the most valid indicator of the liability for schizophrenia and related disorders. This study was the first to simultaneously examine SocAnh individuals and PerMag individuals on a variety of neurocognitive indices in a community sample. Results indicate that while there do not appear to be neurocognitive differences between the groups with respect to attention, working memory, and general memory indices, SocAnh individuals had more schizophrenia-spectrum characteristics and diagnoses, as well as lower global functioning, than did PerMag individuals or controls. Null neurocognitive results may have occurred for a variety of reasons. First, the measures in this study are designed to detect gross impairment rather than the attenuated impairment that schizotypes may have relative to schizophrenia patients. Gross neurocognitive decline may not occur until after the expression of schizophrenia symptoms. Second, this study used pure schizotype samples, which proved to be instrumental in demonstrating that a combination of schizotypy characteristics may be a more reliable marker of schizophrenia liability. Finally, this community sample may be a better representation of schizotype functioning than are college samples. Future directions are discussed.