Psychotic disorders: Childhood IQ may predict onset

Table of Contents

  1. Psychosis and IQ
  2. Charting the cognitive deficit
  3. A cautious approach and future directions

Cognitive impairments are a key feature of psychotic disorders. The latest research shows that these deficits can be spotted when a person is as young as 4 years old.
Young man with psychotic disorderA new study charts the IQ of people who went on to develop psychotic disorder.

Psychotic disorders are estimated to affect more than 3 percent of people in the United States across their lifetime.

Yet despite their relative prevalence, we still have much to learn about how and why they occur.

Individuals with psychotic disorders essentially lose contact with reality. Among other things, they may experience hallucinations and delusions.

Another core feature of psychotic disorders is a decline in cognitive ability. Some scientists focus on this aspect of the condition in an effort to gain insight.

Because the events that lead up to psychotic disorders are poorly understood, researchers hope that by learning more about cognitive decline — and perhaps being able to spot it early — there may be an opportunity to intervene and change the course of the condition.

Psychosis and IQ

The researchers behind a new study — who are all interested in the cognitive aspects of psychiatric disease — hail from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience in the United Kingdom and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, NY.

They recently published the details of their latest study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Earlier studies have demonstrated that IQ scores in people with schizophrenia, a form of psychotic disorder, are lower after symptoms have appeared compared with tests prior to onset.

The latest investigation, however, wanted to chart this drop in IQ further back in time to get a better understanding of when the decline first begins. This is important because, for years, scientists have wondered whether schizophrenia might be — at least in part — due to abnormalities in brain development.

Although adolescence is known to be a critical time for schizophrenia, few studies have looked further back into childhood.

The scientists behind the latest study also cast their net a little wider, comparing individuals with psychotic disorder with those with other mental disorders, including psychosis with depression, subclinical psychotic experiences, and depression.


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