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Relatively lower executive functioning is characteristic of individuals with schizophrenia. As low socio-economic status (SES) early in life (i.e. parent SES) has been linked with lower executive skills in healthy children, we hypothesized that parental SES (pSES) would be more strongly related to executive functioning in individuals with schizophrenia than in controls and have a greater impact on prefrontal cortical morphology.
Healthy controls (n = 125) and individuals with schizophrenia (n = 102) completed tests assessing executive functioning and intelligence. The groups were matched on pSES, which was evaluated with the Hollingshead–Redlich scale. A principal components analysis (PCA) was conducted on 10 variables from six executive tests, yielding three specific components (fluency, planning and response inhibition). Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used to evaluate effects of pSES on gray matter (GM) concentration.
Lower pSES was associated with lower scores across the three executive functioning components, and a significant group by pSES interaction was observed such that low pSES, in particular, affected individuals with schizophrenia. These effects remained significant when intellectual ability, education and self-SES (sSES) were added as covariates. VBM revealed that lower pSES was associated with reduced GM volume in several anterior brain regions, especially the superior frontal gyrus, in patients but not in controls.
These findings suggest that individuals with schizophrenia may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse impact of low pSES, in terms of both lower executive skills and reduced anterior GM volumes.
In an effort to group mental disorders on the basis of etiology, five clusters have been proposed. Here we consider the validity of the cluster comprising selected psychotic and related disorders.
A group of diagnostic entities classified under schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders in DSM-IV-TR were assigned to this cluster and the bordering disorders, bipolar (BD) and schizotypal personality disorders (SPD), were included. We then reviewed the literature in relation to 11 validating criteria proposed by the DSM-V Task Force Study Group.
Relevant comparisons on the 11 spectrum criteria are rare for the included disorders except for schizophrenia and the two border conditions, BD and SPD. The core psychosis group is congruent at the level of shared psychotic psychopathology and response to antipsychotic medication. BD and SPD are exceptions in that psychosis is not typical in BD-II disorder and frank psychosis is excluded in SPD. There is modest similarity between schizophrenia and BD relating to risk factors, neural substrates, cognition and endophenotypes, but key differences are noted. There is greater support for a spectrum relationship of SPD and schizophrenia. Antecedent temperament, an important validator for other groupings, has received little empirical study in the various psychotic disorders.
The DSM-IV-TR grouping of psychotic disorders is supported by tradition and shared psychopathology, but few data exist across these diagnoses relating to the 11 spectrum criteria. The case for including BD is modest, and the relationship of BD to other mood disorders is addressed elsewhere. Evidence is stronger for inclusion of SPD, but the relationship with other personality disorders along the 11 criteria is not addressed and the absence of psychosis presents a conceptual problem. There are no data along the 11 spectrum criteria that are decisive for a cluster based on etiology, and inclusion of BD and SPD is questionable.
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