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June 1979

Offspring of Schizophrenics IIIHyperactivity and Neurological Soft Signs

Author Affiliations

From the Laboratory of Psychology and Psychopathology, Intramural Research, National Institute of Mental Health (Dr Rieder), and the Developmental Neurology Branch, Neurological Disorders Program, National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Diseases and Stroke (Dr Nichols), Bethesda, Md.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(6):665-674. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780060055006

• Twenty-nine male offspring of "continuous schizophrenics" (chronic, borderline, and chronic schizoaffective schizophrenics), plus controls, were given neurological and psychological examinations at age 7. Eight of the 29 were found to have high ratings on a factor score that was termed "hyperactive" (increased activity, impulsivity, distractibility, and emotional lability), and three of these boys had high ratings for neurological signs as well. These frequencies were significantly greater than the control values. Mild incoordination, such as awkwardness in performing rapidly alternating movements, was the neurological soft sign most elevated in the index group. Fifteen female offspring of schizophrenics were not found to differ from their controls on these measures. Previous studies of the childhoods of male schizophrenics have found behavior patterns similar to the behavior of the boys who scored high on our hyperactive factor. It is thus likely that the "hyperactive cases" in this sample are even more at risk for developing schizophrenia in later life than the other offspring of schizophrenic parents.