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To examine genetic influences the anatomy of the Corpus Callosum (CC) in Bipolar Disorder (BD) by examining first-degree relatives in addition to BD patients.
We compared CCl size and shape in 180 individuals: 70 with BD, 45 of their unaffected first-degree relatives, and 75 healthy controls. The CC was extracted from a mid-sagittal slice from T1-weighted magnetic resonance images; its total area, length and curvature were compared across groups. A non-parametric permutation method was used to examine for alterations in width of the callosum along 39 points.
Validating our previous findings, a significant global reduction in CC thickness was seen in BD patients, with a disproportionate thinning in the anterior body. First-degree relatives did not differ in CC size or shape from controls. Duration of illness was associated with thinning in the anterior body, whereas Lithium treatment associated with thicker anterior CC midbody.
Global and regional CC thinning is a disease related feature of BD and may not represent a marker of familial disposition.
Ventricular enlargement is one of the most consistent brain changes associated with schizophrenia. However, there are only few cross-sectional studies in genetic at risk individuals, and no studies in individuals meeting ultra high risk (UHR) criteria of developing frank psychosis. This study investigates the timing of ventricular volume changes across the different stages of emerging psychotic disorders.
We measured ventricular volumes in 473 subjects comparing 135 UHR subjects (of whom 39 subsequently developed a psychotic illness), 162 first-episode psychosis (FEP) subjects, 89 chronic schizophrenia (CS) subjects with 87 normal controls (NC). 29 UHR, 25 FEP, 13 CS, and 24 HV had longitudinal follow up scans.
We found significant ventricular enlargement in FEP and CS, but not in UHR and NC. Longitudinal analysis confirmed ventricular enlargement in non-affective psychosis only. UHR patients had normal ventricular volumes regardless of whether they made transition to frank psychosis or not.
Our results are suggestive that ventricular enlargement is a consequence of transition and/or progression of illness rather than a risk marker in that it is apparent only after the onset of frank psychosis, with prominence in patients with schizophrenia-like psychoses. The results parallel our previous study in that hippocampal volumes were reduced in CS and normal in patients having non-schizophrenic psychoses as well in UHR individuals.
Cognitive deficits have been reported during the early stages of bipolar disorder; however, the role of medication on such deficits remains unclear. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of lithium and quetiapine monotherapy on cognitive performance in people following first episode mania.
The design was a single-blind, randomised controlled trial on a cohort of 61 participants following first episode mania. Participants received either lithium or quetiapine monotherapy as maintenance treatment over a 12-month follow-up period. The groups were compared on performance outcomes using an extensive cognitive assessment battery conducted at baseline, month 3 and month 12 follow-up time-points.
There was a significant interaction between group and time in phonemic fluency at the 3-month and 12-month endpoints, reflecting greater improvements in performance in lithium-treated participants relative to quetiapine-treated participants. After controlling for multiple comparisons, there were no other significant interactions between group and time for other measures of cognition.
Although the effects of lithium and quetiapine treatment were similar for most cognitive domains, the findings imply that early initiation of lithium treatment may benefit the trajectory of cognition, specifically verbal fluency in young people with bipolar disorder. Given that cognition is a major symptomatic domain of bipolar disorder and has substantive effects on general functioning, the ability to influence the trajectory of cognitive change is of considerable clinical importance.
Unusual mafic rock fragments deposited in Plio-Pleistocene-aged marine sediments were recorded at Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Site U1359, in Wilkes Land, East Antarctica. These fragments were identified from sediment layers deposited between c. 3 and 1.2 Ma, indicating a sustained supply during this time interval. Clinopyroxenes in these basalts are Al–Ti diopside–hedenbergite, uncommon in terrestrial magmatic rocks. A single strong peak in the Raman spectra of a phosphate-bearing mineral at 963 cm-1 supports the presence of merrillite. Although not conclusive, petrological traits and oxygen isotopic compositions also suggest that the fragments may be extra-terrestrial fragments affected by shock metamorphism. Nevertheless, it is concluded that the basaltic fragments incorporated in marine sediments at Site U1359 represent ice-rafted material supplied to the continental rise of East Antarctica, probably from the bedrocks near the proximal Ninnis Glacier. Further studies on Plio-Pleistocene sediments near Site U1359 are required to characterize the unusual mafic rocks described.
Previous reviews suggest there is minimal evidence for an association between duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) and neurocognition. This is based on tallied findings of studies with small samples and neurocognition viewed as a single construct. We aimed to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis examining the association between DUP and individual neurocognitive domains and tests in first-episode psychosis (FEP).
MOOSE and PRISMA guidelines were followed. Forty-three studies involving 4647 FEP patients were included. For studies providing correlations between DUP and neurocognition, 12 separate meta-analyses were performed based on neurocognitive domains/indices. The influence of demographic/clinical variables was tested using weighted linear meta-regression analyses.
The relationship between DUP and most neurocognitive domains/indices was not significant. Longer DUP was associated with a larger cognitive deterioration index, i.e. current minus premorbid intellectual functioning (N = 4; mean ES −0.213, 95% confidence interval (CI) (−0.344 to −0.074), p = 0.003). Findings were homogeneous, with no evidence of publication bias or significant influence from moderators. For studies providing mean and standard deviations for neurocognitive measures and DUP, 20 meta-regressions were performed on individual neurocognitive tests. One significant finding emerged showing that longer DUP was associated with fewer Wisconsin Card Sorting Test-perseverative errors (mean ES −0.031, 95% CI (−0.048 to −0.013), p < 0.001). Exploratory meta-regressions in studies with mean DUP <360 days showed longer DUP was significantly associated with poorer performance on Trail Making Test A and B and higher Full-Scale IQ.
There may not be a generalised association between DUP and neurocognition, however, specific cognitive functions may be associated with longer DUP or delayed help-seeking.
Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs4281084 and rs12155594) within the neuregulin-1 (NRG1) gene have been associated with psychosis transition. However, the neurobiological changes associated with these SNPs remain unclear. We aimed to determine what relationship these two SNPs have on lateral ventricular volume and white matter integrity, as abnormalities in these brain structures are some of the most consistent in schizophrenia.
Structural (n = 370) and diffusion (n = 465) magnetic resonance imaging data were obtained from affected and unaffected individuals predominantly of European descent. The SNPs rs4281084, rs12155594, and their combined allelic load were examined for their effects on lateral ventricular volume, fractional anisotropy (FA) as well as axial (AD) and radial (RD) diffusivity. Additional exploratory analyses assessed NRG1 effects on gray matter volume, cortical thickness, and surface area throughout the brain.
Individuals with a schizophrenia age of onset ⩽25 and a combined allelic load ⩾3 NRG1 risk alleles had significantly larger right (up to 50%, padj = 0.01) and left (up to 45%, padj = 0.05) lateral ventricle volumes compared with those with allelic loads of less than three. Furthermore, carriers of three or more risk alleles, regardless of age of onset and case status, had significantly reduced FA and elevated RD but stable AD in the frontal cortex compared with those carrying fewer than three risk alleles.
Our findings build on a growing body of research supporting the functional importance of genetic variation within the NRG1 gene and complement previous findings implicating the rs4281084 and rs12155594 SNPs as markers for psychosis transition.
Cognitive deficits are a core feature of schizophrenia, and impairments in most domains are thought to be stable over the course of the illness. However, cross-sectional evidence indicates that some areas of cognition, such as visuospatial associative memory, may be preserved in the early stages of psychosis, but become impaired in later established illness stages. This longitudinal study investigated change in visuospatial and verbal associative memory following psychosis onset.
In total 95 first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients and 63 healthy controls (HC) were assessed on neuropsychological tests at baseline, with 38 FEP and 22 HCs returning for follow-up assessment at 5–11 years. Visuospatial associative memory was assessed using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery Visuospatial Paired-Associate Learning task, and verbal associative memory was assessed using Verbal Paired Associates subtest of the Wechsler Memory Scale - Revised.
Visuospatial and verbal associative memory at baseline did not differ significantly between FEP patients and HCs. However, over follow-up, visuospatial associative memory deteriorated significantly for the FEP group, relative to healthy individuals. Conversely, verbal associative memory improved to a similar degree observed in HCs. In the FEP cohort, visuospatial (but not verbal) associative memory ability at baseline was associated with functional outcome at follow-up.
Areas of cognition that develop prior to psychosis onset, such as visuospatial and verbal associative memory, may be preserved early in the illness. Later deterioration in visuospatial memory ability may relate to progressive structural and functional brain abnormalities that occurs following psychosis onset.
White matter disruptions in schizophrenia have been widely reported, but it remains unclear whether these abnormalities differ between illness stages. We mapped the connectome in patients with recently diagnosed and chronic schizophrenia and investigated the extent and overlap of white matter connectivity disruptions between these illness stages.
Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images were acquired in recent-onset (n = 19) and chronic patients (n = 45) with schizophrenia, as well as age-matched controls (n = 87). Whole-brain fiber tracking was performed to quantify the strength of white matter connections. Connections were tested for significant streamline count reductions in recent-onset and chronic groups, relative to separate age-matched controls. Permutation tests were used to assess whether disrupted connections significantly overlapped between chronic and recent-onset patients. Linear regression was performed to test whether connectivity was strongest in controls, weakest in chronic patients, and midway between these extremities in recent-onset patients (controls > recent-onset > chronic).
Compared with controls, chronic patients displayed a widespread network of connectivity disruptions (p < 0.01). In contrast, connectivity reductions were circumscribed to the anterior fibers of the corpus callosum in recent-onset patients (p < 0.01). A significant proportion of disrupted connections in recent-onset patients (86%) coincided with disrupted connections in chronic patients (p < 0.01). Linear regression revealed that chronic patients displayed reduced connectivity relative to controls, while recent-onset patients showed an intermediate reduction compared with chronic patients (p < 0.01).
Connectome pathology in recent-onset patients with schizophrenia is confined to select tracts within a more extensive network of white matter connectivity disruptions found in chronic illness. These findings may suggest a trajectory of progressive deterioration of connectivity in schizophrenia.
Current group-average analysis suggests quantitative but not qualitative cognitive differences between schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BD). There is increasing recognition that cognitive within-group heterogeneity exists in both disorders, but it remains unclear as to whether between-group comparisons of performance in cognitive subgroups emerging from within each of these nosological categories uphold group-average findings. We addressed this by identifying cognitive subgroups in large samples of SZ and BD patients independently, and comparing their cognitive profiles. The utility of a cross-diagnostic clustering approach to understanding cognitive heterogeneity in these patients was also explored.
Hierarchical clustering analyses were conducted using cognitive data from 1541 participants (SZ n = 564, BD n = 402, healthy control n = 575).
Three qualitatively and quantitatively similar clusters emerged within each clinical group: a severely impaired cluster, a mild-moderately impaired cluster and a relatively intact cognitive cluster. A cross-diagnostic clustering solution also resulted in three subgroups and was superior in reducing cognitive heterogeneity compared with disorder clustering independently.
Quantitative SZ–BD cognitive differences commonly seen using group averages did not hold when cognitive heterogeneity was factored into our sample. Members of each corresponding subgroup, irrespective of diagnosis, might be manifesting the outcome of differences in shared cognitive risk factors.
Negative mood states are composed of symptoms of depression and anxiety, and by a third factor related to stress, tension and irritability. We sought to clarify the nature of the relationships between the factors by studying twin pairs.
A total of 503 monozygotic twin pairs completed the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS), an instrument that assesses symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress–tension. We applied a recently developed twin regression methodology – Inference about Causation from Examination of FAmiliaL CONfounding (ICE FALCON) – to test for evidence consistent with the existence of ‘causal’ influences between the DASS factors.
There was evidence consistent with the stress–tension factor having a causal influence on both the depression (p < 0.0001) and anxiety factors (p = 0.001), and for the depression factor having a causal influence on the anxiety factor (p < 0.001).
Our findings suggest a critical role for stress–tension in the structure of negative mood states, and that interventions that target it may be particularly effective in reducing depression and anxiety symptoms.
Bed II is a critical part of early Pleistocene Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Its deposits include transitions from humid to more arid conditions (with associated faunal changes), from Homo habilis to erectus, and from Oldowan to Acheulean technology. Bed II (~ 1.8–1.2 Ma) is stratigraphically and environmentally complex, with facies changes, faulting, and unconformities, making site-to-site correlation over the ~ 20 km of exposure difficult. Bed II tuffs are thinner, less evenly preserved, and more reworked than those of Bed I. Five marker tuffs (Tuffs IIA–IID, Bird Print Tuff (BPT)), plus local tephra, were collected from multiple sites and characterized using stratigraphic position, mineral assemblage, and electron probe microanalysis of phenocryst (feldspar, hornblende, augite, titanomagnetite) and glass (where available) composition. Lowermost Bed II tuffs are dominantly nephelinitic, Middle Bed II tuffs (BPT, Tuff IIC) have basaltic components, and upper Bed II Tuff IID is trachytic. The BPT and Tuff IID are identified widely using phenocryst compositions (high-Ca plagioclase and high-Ti hornblende, respectively), though IID was originally (Hay, 1976) misidentified as Tuff IIC at Loc 91 (SHK Annexe) in the Side Gorge. This work helps establish a high-resolution basin-wide paleolandscape context for the Oldowan–Acheulean transition and helps link hominin, faunal and archaeological records.
Impairment in social cognition is an established finding in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Emerging evidence suggests that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might be also associated with deficits in theory of mind (ToM) and emotion recognition. However, there are inconsistent findings, and it has been debatable whether such deficits persist beyond childhood and how similar social cognitive deficits are in ADHD v. ASD.
We conducted a meta-analysis of social cognition, including emotion recognition and ToM, studies in ADHD compared with healthy controls and ASD. The current meta-analysis involved 44 studies comparing ADHD (n = 1999) with healthy controls (n = 1725) and 17 studies comparing ADHD (n = 772) with ASD (n = 710).
Facial and vocal emotion recognition (d = 0.40–0.44) and ToM (d = 0.43) abilities were significantly impaired in ADHD. The most robust facial emotion recognition deficits were evident in anger and fear. Social cognitive deficits were either very subtle (emotion recognition) or non-significant (ToM) in adults with ADHD. Deficits in social cognition, especially ToM, were significantly more pronounced in ASD compared with ADHD. General cognitive impairment has contributed to social cognitive deficits in ADHD.
Performance of individuals with ADHD on social cognition lies intermediate between ASD and healthy controls. However, developmental trajectories of social cognition probably differ between ADHD and ASD as social cognitive deficits in ADHD might be improving with age in most individuals. There is a need for studies investigating a potential subtype of ADHD with persistent social cognitive deficits and exploring longitudinal changes in social cognition during development.
Theory of mind (ToM) dysfunction is prominent in a number of psychiatric disorders, in particular, autism and schizophrenia, and can play a significant role in poor functioning. There is now emerging evidence suggesting that ToM abilities are also impaired in bipolar disorder (BP); however, the relationship between ToM deficits and mood state is not clear.
We conducted a meta-analysis of ToM studies in BP. Thirty-four studies comparing 1214 patients with BP and 1097 healthy controls were included. BP groups included remitted (18 samples, 545 BP patients), subsyndromal (12 samples, 510 BP patients), and acute (manic and/or depressed) (10 samples, 159 BP patients) patients.
ToM performance was significantly impaired in BP compared to controls. This impairment was evident across different types of ToM tasks (including affective/cognitive and verbal/visual) and was also evident in strictly euthymic patients with BP (d = 0.50). There were no significant differences between remitted and subsyndromal samples. However, ToM deficit was significantly more severe during acute episodes (d = 1.23). ToM impairment was significantly associated with neurocognitive and particularly with manic symptoms.
Significant but modest sized ToM dysfunction is evident in remitted and subsyndromal BP. Acute episodes are associated with more robust ToM deficits. Exacerbation of ToM deficits may contribute to the more significant interpersonal problems observed in patients with acute or subsyndromal manic symptoms. There is a need for longitudinal studies comparing the developmental trajectory of ToM deficits across the course of the illness.
Dysregulation of the striatum and altered corticostriatal connectivity have been associated with psychotic disorders. Social anhedonia has been identified as a predictor for the development of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The aim of the present study was to examine corticostriatal functional connectivity in individuals with high social anhedonia.
Twenty-one participants with high social anhedonia score and 30 with low social anhedonia score measured by the Chinese version of the Revised Social Anhedonia Scale were recruited from university undergraduates (age 17–21 years) to undergo resting-state functional MRI scans. Six subdivisions of the striatum in each hemisphere were defined as seeds. Voxel-wise functional connectivity analyses were conducted between each seed and the whole brain voxels, followed by repeated-measures ANOVA for the group effect.
Participants with high social anhedonia showed hyper-connectivity between the ventral striatum and the anterior cingulate cortex and the insula, and between the dorsal striatum and the motor cortex. Hypo-connectivity in participants with high social anhedonia was also observed between the ventral striatum and the posterior cingulate cortex. Partial correlation analyses further showed that the functional connectivity between the ventral striatum and the prefrontal cortex was associated with pleasure experience and emotional suppression.
Our findings suggest that altered corticostriatal connectivity can be found in participants with high levels of social anhedonia. Since social anhedonia has been considered a predictor for schizophrenia spectrum disorders, our results may provide novel evidence on the early changes in brain functional connectivity in at-risk individuals.
Whether there are differential effects of first-generation antipsychotics (FGAs) and second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) on the brain is currently debated. Although some studies report that FGAs reduce grey matter more than SGAs, others do not, and research to date is limited by a focus on schizophrenia spectrum disorders. To address this limitation, this study investigated the effects of medication in patients being treated for first-episode schizophrenia or affective psychoses.
Cortical thickness was compared between 52 first-episode psychosis patients separated into diagnostic (i.e. schizophrenia or affective psychosis) and medication (i.e. FGA and SGA) subgroups. Patients in each group were also compared to age- and sex-matched healthy controls (n = 28). A whole-brain cortical thickness interaction analysis of medication and diagnosis was then performed. Correlations between cortical thickness with antipsychotic dose and psychotic symptoms were examined.
The effects of medication and diagnosis did not interact, suggesting independent effects. Compared with controls, diagnostic differences were found in frontal, parietal and temporal regions. Decreased thickness in FGA-treated versus SGA-treated groups was found in a large frontoparietal region (p < 0.001, corrected). Comparisons with healthy controls revealed decreased cortical thickness in the FGA group whereas the SGA group showed increases in addition to decreases. In FGA-treated patients cortical thinning was associated with higher negative symptoms whereas increased cortical thickness in the SGA-treated group was associated with lower positive symptoms.
Our results suggest that FGA and SGA treatments have divergent effects on cortical thickness during the first episode of psychosis that are independent from changes due to illness.
Brain imaging studies in schizophrenia have typically involved single assessment and cross-sectional designs, while longitudinal studies rarely incorporate more than two time points. While informative, these studies do not adequately capture potential trajectories of neurobiological change, particularly in the context of a changing clinical picture. We propose that the analysis of brain trajectories using multiple time points may inform our understanding of the illness and the effect of treatment. This paper makes the case for frequent serial neuroimaging across the course of schizophrenia psychoses and its application to active illness epsiodes to provide a detailed examination of psychosis relapse and remission.
Grey matter volume and cortical thickness represent two complementary aspects of brain structure. Several studies have described reductions in grey matter volume in people at ultra-high risk (UHR) of psychosis; however, little is known about cortical thickness in this group. The aim of the present study was to investigate cortical thickness alterations in UHR subjects and compare individuals who subsequently did and did not develop psychosis.
We examined magnetic resonance imaging data collected at four different scanning sites. The UHR subjects were followed up for at least 2 years. Subsequent to scanning, 50 UHR subjects developed psychosis and 117 did not. Cortical thickness was examined in regions previously identified as sites of neuroanatomical alterations in UHR subjects, using voxel-based cortical thickness.
At baseline UHR subjects, compared with controls, showed reduced cortical thickness in the right parahippocampal gyrus (p < 0.05, familywise error corrected). There were no significant differences in cortical thickness between the UHR subjects who later developed psychosis and those who did not.
These data suggest that UHR symptomatology is characterized by alterations in the thickness of the medial temporal cortex. We did not find evidence that the later progression to psychosis was linked to additional alterations in cortical thickness, although we cannot exclude the possibility that the study lacked sufficient power to detect such differences.
Individuals at ultra-high risk (UHR) for psychosis show reduced neurocognitive performance across domains but it is unclear which reductions are associated with transition to frank psychosis. The aim of this study was to investigate differences in baseline neurocognitive performance between UHR participants with (UHR-P) and without transition to psychosis (UHR-NP) and a healthy control (HC) group and examine neurocognitive predictors of transition over the medium to long term.
A sample of 325 UHR participants recruited consecutively from the Personal Assessment and Crisis Evaluation (PACE) Clinic in Melbourne and 66 HCs completed a neurocognitive assessment at baseline. The UHR group was followed up between 2.39 and 14.86 (median = 6.45) years later. Cox regression was used to investigate candidate neurocognitive predictors of psychosis onset.
The UHR group performed more poorly than the HC group across a range of neurocognitive domains but only performance on digit symbol coding and picture completion differed between the groups. The risk of transition was only significantly associated with poorer performance on visual reproduction [hazard ratio (HR) 0.919, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.876–0.965, p = 0.001] and matrix reasoning (HR 0.938, 95% CI 0.883–0.996, p = 0.037). These remained significant even after controlling for psychopathology at baseline.
This study is the longest follow-up of an UHR sample to date. UHR status was associated with poorer neurocognitive performance compared to HCs on some tasks. Cognition at identification as UHR was not a strong predictor of risk for transition to psychosis. The results suggests the need to include more experimental paradigms that isolate discrete cognitive processes to better understand neurocognition at this early stage of illness.