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Neurocognitive deficits are a core feature of psychosis and depression. Despite commonalities in cognitive alterations, it remains unclear if and how the cognitive deficits in patients at clinical high risk for psychosis (CHR) and those with recent-onset psychosis (ROP) are distinct from those seen in recent-onset depression (ROD).
This study was carried out within the European project ‘Personalized Prognostic Tools for Early Psychosis Management’, and aimed to characterise the cognitive profiles of patients with psychosis or depression.
We examined cognitive profiles for patients with ROP (n = 105), patients with ROD (n = 123), patients at CHR (n = 116) and healthy controls (n = 372) across seven sites in five European countries. Confirmatory factor analysis identified four cognitive factors independent of gender, education and site: speed of processing, attention and working memory, verbal learning and spatial learning.
Patients with ROP performed worse than healthy controls in all four domains (P < 0.001), whereas performance of patients with ROD was not affected (P > 0.05). Patients at CHR performed worse than healthy controls in speed of processing (P = 0.001) and spatial learning (P = 0.003), but better than patients with ROP across all cognitive domains (all P ≤ 0.01). CHR and ROD groups did not significantly differ in any cognitive domain. These findings were independent of comorbid depressive symptoms, substance consumption and illness duration.
These results show that neurocognitive abilities are affected in CHR and ROP, whereas ROD seems spared. Although our findings may support the notion that those at CHR have a specific vulnerability to psychosis, future studies investigating broader transdiagnostic risk cohorts in longitudinal designs are needed.
Studies investigating cognitive impairments in psychosis and depression have typically compared the average performance of the clinical group against healthy controls (HC), and do not report on the actual prevalence of cognitive impairments or strengths within these clinical groups. This information is essential so that clinical services can provide adequate resources to supporting cognitive functioning. Thus, we investigated this prevalence in individuals in the early course of psychosis or depression.
A comprehensive cognitive test battery comprising 12 tests was completed by 1286 individuals aged 15–41 (mean age 25.07, s.d. 5.88) from the PRONIA study at baseline: HC (N = 454), clinical high risk for psychosis (CHR; N = 270), recent-onset depression (ROD; N = 267), and recent-onset psychosis (ROP; N = 295). Z-scores were calculated to estimate the prevalence of moderate or severe deficits or strengths (>2 s.d. or 1–2 s.d. below or above HC, respectively) for each cognitive test.
Impairment in at least two cognitive tests was as follows: ROP (88.3% moderately, 45.1% severely impaired), CHR (71.2% moderately, 22.4% severely impaired), ROD (61.6% moderately, 16.2% severely impaired). Across clinical groups, impairments were most prevalent in tests of working memory, processing speed, and verbal learning. Above average performance (>1 s.d.) in at least two tests was present for 40.5% ROD, 36.1% CHR, 16.1% ROP, and was >2 SDs in 1.8% ROD, 1.4% CHR, and 0% ROP.
These findings suggest that interventions should be tailored to the individual, with working memory, processing speed, and verbal learning likely to be important transdiagnostic targets.
Since its discovery in 1997, the default mode network (DMN) and its components have been extensively studied in both healthy individuals and psychiatric patients. Several studies have investigated possible DMN alterations in specific mental conditions such as bipolar disorder (BD). In this review, we describe current evidence from resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging studies with the aim to understand possible changes in the functioning of the DMN in BD. Overall, several types of analyses including seed-based and independent component have been conducted on heterogeneous groups of patients highlighting different results. Despite the differences, findings seem to indicate that BD is associated with alterations in both frontal and posterior DMN structures, mainly in the prefrontal, posterior cingulate and inferior parietal cortices. We conclude this review by suggesting possible future research directions.
Although the study of the neuroanatomical correlates of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is gaining increasing interest, up to now the cortical anatomy of GAD patients has been poorly investigated and still no data on cortical gyrification are available. The aim of the present study is to quantitatively examine the cortical morphology in patients with GAD compared with healthy controls (HC) using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study analyzing the gyrification patterns in GAD.
A total of 31 GAD patients and 31 HC underwent 3 T structural MRI. For each subject, cortical surface area (CSA), cortical thickness (CT), gray matter volume (GMV), and local gyrification index (LGI) were estimated in 19 regions of interest using the Freesurfer software. These parameters were then compared between the two groups using General Linear Model designs.
Compared with HC, GAD patients showed: (1) reduced CT in right caudal middle frontal gyrus (p < 0.05, Bonferroni corrected), (2) hyper-gyrification in right fusiform, inferior temporal, superior parietal and supramarginal gyri and in left supramarginal and superior frontal gyri (p < 0.05, Bonferroni corrected). No significant alterations in CSA and GMV were observed.
Our findings support the hypothesis of a neuroanatomical basis for GAD, highlighting a possible key role of the right hemisphere. The alterations of CT and gyrification in GAD suggest a neurodevelopmental origin of the disorder. Further studies on GAD are needed to understand the evolution of the cerebral morphology with age and during the clinical course of the illness.
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