Schizophrenia - Early Symptoms

Professor Pat Levitt explains that while schizophrenia is rarely seen in childhood, there are early signs of developmental problems.

We know that schizophrenia has been defined previously as when a person comes into the hospital exhibiting what we focus on in schizophrenia, which is the psychosis. We know that there are differences (they may be subtle differences) earlier on. The ability to perform certain cognitive functions, learning and memory may be altered. There are differences in motor coordination that people have identified. It’s important to realize that they’re very subtle and it’s not that they’re unique to schizophrenia but there is an indication that even before the major issues of psychosis arise, which typically occurs in the twenties, that there are fundamental changes that are occurring. Now the second part of the question is why don’t you see anything early on in childhood if gene vulnerability is causing, at least in part, the disorder? Well first of all we know that there are actually childhood onset examples of schizophrenia, although it’s rare. And we also know that gene vulnerability may not be read out, we may not see anything obvious in changes until after puberty. We really don’t understand why that’s the case but we know that it exists both in research models - animal models as well as in humans as well. There’s something magical about this developmental period but we don’t understand why.

schizophrenia, childhood, development, onset, diagnosis, motor, coordination, learning, memory, cognitive, cognition, puberty, gene, pat, levitt

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