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Scientists Identify Four Distinct Developmental Trajectories for Individuals

Aug 07, 2017     Email"> PrintText Size

Schizotypy, defined as the personality organization underlying schizophrenia and other related mental disorders, is a critical construct for a broad range of scientific disciplines. Because schizotypy can be psychometrically identified in the general population, investigating schizotypy may provide a unique opportunity to better understand the underlying psychopathological process of psychosis while avoiding the confounding effect of antipsychotic medications and duration of the illness.

However, most of the previous studies were limited to cross-sectional data and western-based samples, very little is known about the trajectories of individuals with schizotypal traits and their corresponding emotional and social functioning.  

Drs. Raymond Chan, WANG Yi, SHI Haisong, LIU Wenhua and the team of the Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience (NACN) Laboratory, CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, and international collaborators have conducted a prospective longitudinal study to identify whether there would be latent groups of individuals with distinct trajectories of schizotypal traits, and whether these potentially identified groups of individuals would be characterized by unique behavioural, emotional and social functioning performances.  

Using the Chapman scales, Dr. Chan and his team have successfully identified four latent groups with distinct trajectories in 1541 college students.

Latent class 1 (LC1) showed consistently low levels of schizotypy traits, whereas latent class 3(LC3) showed persistently high levels of various schizotypy traits. Both latent classes 2 (LC2) and 4 (LC4) had low baseline schizotypy scores, which increased over time, in an abrupt way for LC2 and a more gradual way for LC4.

These four groups were also distinguishable by their emotional and social functioning. LC3 had the worst emotional and social functioning outcomes. LC2 was characterized by declines in emotional and social functioning over time. LC4displayed an emotional and social functioning profile that was comparable to LC1. 

The present findings suggest that there may be distinct developmental trajectories for schizotypy. Two groups may be of particular interest: the "stable high schizotypy" group (LC3) that displayed the worst clinical and functioning outcomes on almost all measures and the "high reactive schizotypy" group (LC2)characterized by a relatively rapid decline in functioning.

These findings highlight the importance of tracking schizotypy longitudinally because of their different trajectories and outcomes. It also suggests that the "stable high schizotypy" and the "high reactive schizotypy" groups may warrant clinical attention. 

The paper is now available online in Schizophrenia Research entitled "Trajectories of schizotypy and their emotional and social functioning: An 18-month follow-up study".

This study was supported by grants from the National Science Fund China, the Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission Grant, the Beijing Training Project for the Leading Talents in Science and Technology, the CAS key Laboratory of Mental Health, and the CAS/SAFEA International Partnership Program for Creative Research Teams.


(Editor: ZHANG Nannan)


Raymond Chan

Institute of Psychology

E-mail: rckchan@psych.ac.cn

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