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Motivational impairment associated with deficits in processing the anticipation of future reward is hypothesized to be a cardinal feature of schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SZ). Evidence from short-term follow-up (6-week post-treatment) studies suggests that these deficits may improve or be reversed with treatment, although longer-term outcomes are unknown. Here we examined the one-year trajectory of functional activation in brain circuitry associated with reward anticipation in people with recent onset SZ who participated in coordinated specialty care (CSC) treatment, hypothesizing normalization of brain response mirroring previous short-term findings in first-episode individuals.
Blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula, and ventral striatum (VS) associated with reward anticipation during the Incentivized Control Engagement Task (ICE-T) was analyzed in a baseline sample of 49 healthy controls (HCs) and 52 demographically matched people with SZ, with follow-up data available for 35 HCs and 17 people with SZ.
In agreement with our hypothesis, significant time × diagnosis interactions were observed across all regions, in which reward anticipation-associated BOLD response increased in SZ to above baseline HC levels at follow-up. Increased VS activation was associated with decreased reality distortion symptoms over the follow-up period. Baseline reward anticipation-associated BOLD response in the right anterior insula was associated with improvement in reality distortion symptoms.
These findings suggest that functional deficits in reward anticipation may be reversed after one year of CSC in recent onset participants with SZ, and that this improvement is associated with reduced positive symptoms in the illness.
Previous research in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) has shown a mixed pattern of disrupted thalamocortical connectivity in psychosis. The clinical meaning of these findings and their stability over time remains unclear. We aimed to study thalamocortical connectivity longitudinally over a 1-year period in participants with recent-onset psychosis.
To this purpose, 129 individuals with recent-onset psychosis and 87 controls were clinically evaluated and scanned using rs-fMRI. Among them, 43 patients and 40 controls were re-scanned and re-evaluated 12 months later. Functional connectivity between the thalamus and the rest of the brain was calculated using a seed to voxel approach, and then compared between groups and correlated with clinical features cross-sectionally and longitudinally.
At baseline, participants with recent-onset psychosis showed increased connectivity (compared to controls) between the thalamus and somatosensory and temporal regions (k = 653, T = 5.712), as well as decreased connectivity between the thalamus and left cerebellum and right prefrontal cortex (PFC; k = 201, T = −4.700). Longitudinal analyses revealed increased connectivity over time in recent-onset psychosis (relative to controls) in the right middle frontal gyrus.
Our results support the concept of abnormal thalamic connectivity as a core feature in psychosis. In agreement with a non-degenerative model of illness in which functional changes occur early in development and do not deteriorate over time, no evidence of progressive deterioration of connectivity during early psychosis was observed. Indeed, regionally increased connectivity between thalamus and PFC was observed.
Schizophrenia is a disorder characterized by pervasive deficits in cognitive functioning. However, few well-powered studies have examined the degree to which cognitive performance is impaired even among individuals with schizophrenia not currently on antipsychotic medications using a wide range of cognitive and reinforcement learning measures derived from cognitive neuroscience. Such research is particularly needed in the domain of reinforcement learning, given the central role of dopamine in reinforcement learning, and the potential impact of antipsychotic medications on dopamine function.
The present study sought to fill this gap by examining healthy controls (N = 75), unmedicated (N = 48) and medicated (N = 148) individuals with schizophrenia. Participants were recruited across five sites as part of the CNTRaCS Consortium to complete tasks assessing processing speed, cognitive control, working memory, verbal learning, relational encoding and retrieval, visual integration and reinforcement learning.
Individuals with schizophrenia who were not taking antipsychotic medications, as well as those taking antipsychotic medications, showed pervasive deficits across cognitive domains including reinforcement learning, processing speed, cognitive control, working memory, verbal learning and relational encoding and retrieval. Further, we found that chlorpromazine equivalency rates were significantly related to processing speed and working memory, while there were no significant relationships between anticholinergic load and performance on other tasks.
These findings add to a body of literature suggesting that cognitive deficits are an enduring aspect of schizophrenia, present in those off antipsychotic medications as well as those taking antipsychotic medications.
Identifying risk factors of individuals in a clinical-high-risk state for psychosis are vital to prevention and early intervention efforts. Among prodromal abnormalities, cognitive functioning has shown intermediate levels of impairment in CHR relative to first-episode psychosis and healthy controls, highlighting a potential role as a risk factor for transition to psychosis and other negative clinical outcomes. The current study used the AX-CPT, a brief 15-min computerized task, to determine whether cognitive control impairments in CHR at baseline could predict clinical status at 12-month follow-up.
Baseline AX-CPT data were obtained from 117 CHR individuals participating in two studies, the Early Detection, Intervention, and Prevention of Psychosis Program (EDIPPP) and the Understanding Early Psychosis Programs (EP) and used to predict clinical status at 12-month follow-up. At 12 months, 19 individuals converted to a first episode of psychosis (CHR-C), 52 remitted (CHR-R), and 46 had persistent sub-threshold symptoms (CHR-P). Binary logistic regression and multinomial logistic regression were used to test prediction models.
Baseline AX-CPT performance (d-prime context) was less impaired in CHR-R compared to CHR-P and CHR-C patient groups. AX-CPT predictive validity was robust (0.723) for discriminating converters v. non-converters, and even greater (0.771) when predicting CHR three subgroups.
These longitudinal outcome data indicate that cognitive control deficits as measured by AX-CPT d-prime context are a strong predictor of clinical outcome in CHR individuals. The AX-CPT is brief, easily implemented and cost-effective measure that may be valuable for large-scale prediction efforts.
Restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRBs) are hallmark symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs); however, it has proven difficult to understand the mechanisms underlying these behaviors. One hypothesis suggests that RRBs are the result of a core deficit in attention. Alternatively, abnormalities of the motor system may constitute the central mechanism underlying RRBs, given motor deficits observed in ASDs. In this experiment, we investigated the etiology of RRBs and the relationship between attention and motor deficits. Movement impairments (a) may be indirectly related to attention deficits, (b) may result from a shared compromised process, or (c) may be independent. Twenty-two adolescents with ASD and 20 typically developing participants performed a spatial attention task. Movement impairments were assessed with a rhythmic tapping task. Attentional orienting and motor control were found to be related and supported the hypothesis that these impairments in ASD arise from a shared process. In contrast, measures of attention switching and motor control were found to be independent. Stereotyped behaviors, as assessed by parental ratings, were related more to the degree of motor impairment than to deficits of attention. These results suggest that both attentional orienting deficits and stereotyped RRBs are related to a compromised motor system.
People with schizophrenia may demonstrate cortical abnormalities, with gyri and sulci potentially being differentially affected.
To measure frontal and temporal sulcal cortical thickness, surface area and volume in the non-psychotic relatives of patients with schizophrenia as a potential vulnerability indicator for the disorder.
An automated parcellation method was used to measure the superior frontal, inferior frontal, cingulate, superior temporal and inferior temporal sulci in the relatives of patients (n=19) and controls (n=22).
Compared with controls, relatives had reversed hemispheric asymmetry in their cingulate sulcal thickness and a bilateral reduction in their superior temporal sulcal thickness.
Cingulate and superior temporal sulcal thickness abnormalities may reflect neural abnormalities associated with the genetic liability to schizophrenia. Cortical thinning in these regions suggests that liability genes affect the dendrites, synapses or myelination process during the neurodevelopment of the cortical mantle.
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