Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Cliff-edged fitness functions and the persistence of schizophrenia

Randolph M. Nesse a1
a1 Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 [email protected]


Strong recent selection for social cognition may well explain the persistence of genes that predispose to schizophrenia. The specific mechanism responsible may be a skewed fitness function in which selection pushes the mean for advantageous mental traits perilously close to a “fitness cliff” where the system fails catastrophically in some individuals.