Neurobehavioral deficits at adolescence in children at risk for schizophrenia: The Jerusalem Infant Development Study

Sydney L. Hans, Joseph Marcus, Keith H. Nuechterlein, Robert F. Asarnow, Benedict Styr, Judith G. Auerbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Background: The Jerusalem Infant Development Study is a prospective investigation comparing offspring of schizophrenic parents with offspring of parents who have no mental disorder or have nonschizophrenic mental disorders. During infancy and school age, a subgroup of offspring of schizophrenic parents showed global neurobehavioral deficits that were hypothesized to be indicators of vulnerability to schizophrenia. The purposes of the present investigation were to determine if neurobehavioral deficits were present in the offspring of schizophrenics at adolescence, to examine their stability over time, and to explore their relation to concurrent mental adjustment. Methods: Sixty-five Israeli adolescents were assessed on a battery of neurologic and neuropsychological assessments. They were also administered psychiatric interviews from which best-estimate DSM-III-R diagnoses and scores of global adjustment were derived. Results: Adolescents with poor neurobehavioral functioning were identified from composites of motor and cognitive-attentional variables. A disproportionate number of offspring of schizophrenic parents (42%; 10/24), and especially male offspring of schizophrenic parents (73%; 8/11), showed poor neurobehavioral functioning relative to offspring of nonschizophrenic parents (22%; 9/41). Adolescent offspring of schizophrenics with poor neurobehavioral functioning had been poorly functioning at earlier ages and had poor psychiatric adjustment at adolescence. All 4 offspring of schizophrenics receiving schizophrenia spectrum diagnoses by adolescence showed a pattern of poor neurobehavioral functioning across developmental periods. Conclusions: Results are consistent with the hypothesis that individuals at genetic risk for schizophrenia may display lifelong neurobehavioral signs that are indicators of vulnerability to schizophrenia and that are associated with psychiatric adjustment generally and schizophrenic spectrum disorder specifically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-748
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of General Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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