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April 1985

Neurological Soft Signs: Their Relationship to Psychiatric Disorder and Intelligence in Childhood and Adolescence

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Child Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985;42(4):342-351. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790270028003

• Sixty-three male and 27 female adolescents known to have had neurological soft signs at the age of 7 years were compared with controls with no soft signs at age 7. Adolescents with early soft signs had significantly lower IQs and were more likely to have a psychiatric disorder characterized by anxiety, withdrawal, and depression. All the girls and 80% (12/15) of the boys with an anxiety-withdrawal diagnosis showed early soft signs. There was no relationship between early soft signs and attention deficit or conduct disorders. Examination of the relative contributions of anxiety at age 7, IQ, and social and family disadvantage to later diagnosis showed that most of the variance was accounted for by soft signs independently of IQ. Soft signs and anxious dependent behavior at age 7 were strongly predictive of persistent psychiatric disorder characterized by anxiety and withdrawal.

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