Lower cognitive ability in childhood is associated with increased risk of future schizophrenia. However, the relationship to other psychiatric disorders is less well understood. Dr Jennifer Barnett and colleagues at Psychiatry including head of department Prof Peter Jones, have recently published a paper linking cognitive ability to adult psychotic-like experiences and other psychopathology.
In the large-scale study, people born during a set week in 1946 were contacted up to 20 times between six weeks and 53 years of age. Cognition was assessed at ages 8, 11 and 15 years. At age 53 years, 2918 participants reported whether or not they had experienced psychotic events using specific questionnaires.
Dr Barnett and colleagues found that psychotic-like experiences were reported by 22% of participants. Reporting of psychotic-like episodes in adulthood was significantly associated with poorer childhood cognitive test scores at ages 8 and 15 years, although less so at age 11 years.
The authors conclude that lower childhood cognitive ability is a risk factor for psychotic-like experiences in later life and the root cause may be seeded in early brain development.