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Schizophr Res. 2009 Jul;112(1-3):91-8. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2009.04.017. Epub 2009 May 15.

Cognitive mechanisms underlying disorganization of thought in a genetic syndrome (47,XXY).

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  • 1Leiden University, Clinical Child and Adolescent Studies, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Because of the risk for development of psychopathology such as psychotic symptoms, it has been suggested that studying men with the XXY karyotype may help in the search for underlying cognitive, neural and genetic mechanisms. The aim of this study was to identify cognitive mechanisms that may contribute to disorganization of thought in XXY men. A group of 24 XXY men and two non-clinical control groups (N=20, N=18) participated in the study. The level of disorganization of thought was measured using the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire. We assessed IQ, lateralization of verbal information processing and executive functions including inhibition and mental flexibility. XXY men with high levels of disorganization showed more severe impairments in mental flexibility and inhibition as compared to non-clinical controls and other XXY men. This subgroup also showed a stronger reduction in lateralization of verbal information processing. IQ measures did not differentiate XXY men with high versus low levels of disorganization. These findings indicate that executive impairments in the domains of inhibition and mental flexibility might play a role in the increased vulnerability for disorganized thought in the XXY group. Reduced lateralization of verbal information processing points to non-optimal cerebral specialization in the XXY group, especially in XXY men with high levels of disorganization. This fits with deficits in brain functions most vulnerable to such maturational disruptions, i.e. executive dysfunctions. Our findings are in line with those reported for schizophrenia patients with thought disorder. We speculate that the underlying mechanisms of thought disorder probably are deficit specific rather than disorder specific.

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