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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.
Resilience is defined as the ability to modify thoughts to cope with stressful events. Patients with schizophrenia (SCZ) having higher resilience (HR) levels show less severe symptoms and better real-life functioning. However, the clinical factors contributing to determine resilience levels in patients remain unclear. Thus, based on psychological, historical, clinical and environmental variables, we built a supervised machine learning algorithm to classify patients with HR or lower resilience (LR).
SCZ from the Italian Network for Research on Psychoses (N = 598 in the Discovery sample, N = 298 in the Validation sample) underwent historical, clinical, psychological, environmental and resilience assessments. A Support Vector Machine algorithm (based on 85 variables extracted from the above-mentioned assessments) was built in the Discovery sample, and replicated in the Validation sample, to classify between HR and LR patients, within a nested, Leave-Site-Out Cross-Validation framework. We then investigated whether algorithm decision scores were associated with the cognitive and clinical characteristics of patients.
The algorithm classified patients as HR or LR with a Balanced Accuracy of 74.5% (p < 0.0001) in the Discovery sample, and 80.2% in the Validation sample. Higher self-esteem, larger social network and use of adaptive coping strategies were the variables most frequently chosen by the algorithm to generate decisions. Correlations between algorithm decision scores, socio-cognitive abilities, and symptom severity were significant (pFDR < 0.05).
We identified an accurate, meaningful and generalizable clinical-psychological signature associated with resilience in SCZ. This study delivers relevant information regarding psychological and clinical factors that non-pharmacological interventions could target in schizophrenia.
Clinical high-risk states for psychosis (CHR) are associated with functional impairments and depressive disorders. A previous PRONIA study predicted social functioning in CHR and recent-onset depression (ROD) based on structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) and clinical data. However, the combination of these domains did not lead to accurate role functioning prediction, calling for the investigation of additional risk dimensions. Role functioning may be more strongly associated with environmental adverse events than social functioning.
We aimed to predict role functioning in CHR, ROD and transdiagnostically, by adding environmental adverse events-related variables to clinical and sMRI data domains within the PRONIA sample.
Baseline clinical, environmental and sMRI data collected in 92 CHR and 95 ROD samples were trained to predict lower versus higher follow-up role functioning, using support vector classification and mixed k-fold/leave-site-out cross-validation. We built separate predictions for each domain, created multimodal predictions and validated them in independent cohorts (74 CHR, 66 ROD).
Models combining clinical and environmental data predicted role outcome in discovery and replication samples of CHR (balanced accuracies: 65.4% and 67.7%, respectively), ROD (balanced accuracies: 58.9% and 62.5%, respectively), and transdiagnostically (balanced accuracies: 62.4% and 68.2%, respectively). The most reliable environmental features for role outcome prediction were adult environmental adjustment, childhood trauma in CHR and childhood environmental adjustment in ROD.
Findings support the hypothesis that environmental variables inform role outcome prediction, highlight the existence of both transdiagnostic and syndrome-specific predictive environmental adverse events, and emphasise the importance of implementing real-world models by measuring multiple risk dimensions.
Previous models suggest biological and behavioral continua among healthy individuals (HC), at-risk condition, and full-blown schizophrenia (SCZ). Part of these continua may be captured by schizotypy, which shares subclinical traits and biological phenotypes with SCZ, including thalamic structural abnormalities. In this regard, previous findings have suggested that multivariate volumetric patterns of individual thalamic nuclei discriminate HC from SCZ. These results were obtained using machine learning, which allows case–control classification at the single-subject level. However, machine learning accuracy is usually unsatisfactory possibly due to phenotype heterogeneity. Indeed, a source of misclassification may be related to thalamic structural characteristics of those HC with high schizotypy, which may resemble structural abnormalities of SCZ. We hypothesized that thalamic structural heterogeneity is related to schizotypy, such that high schizotypal burden would implicate misclassification of those HC whose thalamic patterns resemble SCZ abnormalities.
Following a previous report, we used Random Forests to predict diagnosis in a case–control sample (SCZ = 131, HC = 255) based on thalamic nuclei gray matter volumes estimates. Then, we investigated whether the likelihood to be classified as SCZ (π-SCZ) was associated with schizotypy in 174 HC, evaluated with the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire.
Prediction accuracy was 72.5%. Misclassified HC had higher positive schizotypy scores, which were correlated with π-SCZ. Results were specific to thalamic rather than whole-brain structural features.
These findings strengthen the relevance of thalamic structural abnormalities to SCZ and suggest that multivariate thalamic patterns are correlates of the continuum between schizotypy in HC and the full-blown disease.