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Relationship of parental age with set shifting and reversal learning in schizophrenia


Advanced parental age at birth has been associated with the risk of schizophrenia and has been linked to cognitive deficits in children. However, the relationship of parental age with cognition and with attentional flexibility in schizophrenia remains unknown.

Materials and methods

27 patients with schizophrenia, were tested on the intra-dimensional/extra-dimensional set-shifting task (IEDS) of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) in an acute psychiatric ward. The paternal (PAB) and maternal age at birth (MAB) were also registered. Statistical correlation analyses and the Mann-Whitney test were performed using the SPSS.


PAB positively correlated with the intra-dimensional shifting errors in the IEDS (rho = 0.7, p = 0.005). MAB positively correlated with both intra- and extra-dimensional reversal errors (rho = 0.572, p = 0.026 and rho = 0.9, p = 0.037, respectively). When we divided our subjects into two groups according to their PAB (≥ and < 30 years), no differences were found in any cognitive measure. However, the group with a MAB ≥ 30 years, showed increased intra-dimensional reversal errors compared with the group with a MAB < 30 years (p = 0.03 and 0.029 respectively).


Increasing parental PAB showed an inverse relationship with the intra-dimensional shifting ability, but did not affect rule reversal performance. MAB was associated with errors in both intra- and extra-dimensional reversal in schizophrenia.


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Correspondence to Dimitrios Kontis.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Kontis, D., Kleisas, S., Theochari, E. et al. Relationship of parental age with set shifting and reversal learning in schizophrenia. Ann Gen Psychiatry 9, S125 (2010).

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  • Schizophrenia
  • Statistical Correlation
  • Reversal Learning
  • Cognitive Measure
  • Test Automate