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Schizophr Bull. 2013 May;39(3):537-46. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbs141. Epub 2012 Nov 29.

Performance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test in families of schizophrenia patients with different familial loadings.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical Medicine, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.


Despite the consistent presence of performance deficits on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) in schizophrenia patients, whether poorer performance is also present in their nonpsychotic relatives is not certain. This study aimed to estimate both the recurrence risk ratio (λs) and the heritability of WCST scores in simplex and multiplex families, respectively, and to examine the influence of familial loading on these estimates. Participants were patients with schizophrenia and their nonpsychotic first-degree relatives from 168 simplex families and 653 multiplex families as well as 440 normal comparisons. On the basis of adjusted z scores, both the λs at a series of cutoff points and heritability estimates based on variance component modeling in the nonpsychotic relatives of schizophrenia patients were estimated. The WCST deficits in schizophrenia patients were more prominent in multiplex families than in simplex ones. Among relatives, WCST deficits were limited to parents of multiplex families for most WCST scores and siblings from multiplex families for total errors, perseverative responses, and perseverative errors. Pertaining to λs, the estimates for multiplex families (highest estimates ranging from 7.9 to 11.0) were greater than those for simplex ones (<2.5). Nevertheless, the heritability estimates were very similar between simplex (ranging from 0% to 17%) and multiplex (ranging from 0% to 21%) families, with the latter having slightly greater values than the former. There is only a small-to-modest familial aggregation on part of WCST scores in families of schizophrenia patients, and this may limit its use as endophenotypic markers to schizophrenia susceptibility.

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