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Although there are extensive data on clinical psychopathology in youth with suicidal ideation, data are lacking regarding their neurocognitive function.
To characterise the cognitive profile of youth with suicidal ideation in a community sample and evaluate gender differences and pubertal status effects.
Participants (N = 6151, age 11–21 years, 54.9% females) from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, a non-help-seeking community sample, underwent detailed clinical evaluation. Cognitive phenotyping included executive functioning, episodic memory, complex reasoning and social cognitive functioning. We compared participants with suicidal ideation (N = 672) and without suicidal ideation (N = 5479). Regression models were employed to evaluate differences in cognitive performance and functional level, with gender and pubertal status as independent variables. Models controlled for lifetime depression or general psychopathology, and for covariates including age and socioeconomic status.
Youth with suicidal ideation showed greater psychopathology, poorer level of function but better overall neurocognitive performance. Greater functional impairment was observed in females with suicidal ideation (suicidal ideation × gender interaction, t = 3.091, P = 0.002). Greater neurocognition was associated with suicidal ideation post-puberty (suicidal ideation × puberty interaction, t = 3.057, P = 0.002). Exploratory analyses of specific neurocognitive domains showed that suicidal ideation-associated cognitive superiority was more prominent in post-pubertal males compared with females (Cohen's d = 0.32 and d = 0.11, respectively) across all cognitive domains.
Suicidal ideation was associated with poorer functioning yet better cognitive performance, especially in post-pubertal males, as measured by a comprehensive cognitive battery. Findings point to gender and pubertal-status specificity in the relationship between suicidal ideation, cognition and function in youth.
Declaration of interest
R.B. serves on the scientific board and reports stock ownership in ‘Taliaz Health’, with no conflict of interest relevant to this work. M.A.O. receives royalties for the commercial use of the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale from the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene. Her family owns stock in Bristol-Myers Squibb. All other authors declare no potential conflict of interest.
Traumatic stressors during childhood and adolescence are associated with psychopathology, mostly studied in the context of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. We investigated broader associations of traumatic stress exposure with psychopathology and cognition in a youth community sample.
The Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort (N = 9498) is an investigation of clinical and neurobehavioral phenotypes in a diverse (56% Caucasian, 33% African American, 11% other) US youth community population (aged 8–21). Participants were ascertained through children's hospital pediatric (not psychiatric) healthcare network in 2009–2011. Structured psychiatric evaluation included screening for lifetime exposure to traumatic stressors, and a neurocognitive battery was administered.
Exposure rate to traumatic stressful events was high (none, N = 5204; one, N = 2182; two, N = 1092; three or more, N = 830). Higher stress load was associated with increased psychopathology across all clinical domains evaluated: mood/anxiety (standardized β = .378); psychosis spectrum (β = .360); externalizing behaviors (β = .311); and fear (β = .256) (controlling for covariates, all p < 0.001). Associations remained significant controlling for lifetime PTSD and depression. Exposure to high-stress load was robustly associated with suicidal ideation and cannabis use (odds ratio compared with non-exposed 5.3 and 3.2, respectively, both p < 0.001). Among youths who experienced traumatic stress (N = 4104), history of assaultive trauma was associated with greater psychopathology and, in males, vulnerability to psychosis and externalizing symptoms. Stress load was negatively associated with performance on executive functioning, complex reasoning, and social cognition.
Traumatic stress exposure in community non-psychiatric help-seeking youth is substantial, and is associated with more severe psychopathology and neurocognitive deficits across domains, beyond PTSD and depression.
Recession of “Golden Eagle” glacier in the central Brooks Range is exposing undisturbed lichen-covered boulders. Radiocarbon analysis of dead moss surrounding these boulders dates a Neoglacial advance across this site at 1120±180 years b.p Measurements of the preserved lichens indicate that a minimum ice-free period of 1500–2500 years preceded this glacial expansion.
The extent to which indices of maternal physiological arousal (skin conductance augmentation) and regulation (vagal withdrawal) while parenting predict infant attachment disorganization and behavior problems directly or indirectly via maternal sensitivity was examined in a sample of 259 mothers and their infants. Two covariates, maternal self-reported emotional risk and Adult Attachment Interview attachment coherence were assessed prenatally. Mothers' physiological arousal and regulation were measured during parenting tasks when infants were 6 months old. Maternal sensitivity was observed during distress-eliciting tasks when infants were 6 and 14 months old, and an average sensitivity score was calculated. Attachment disorganization was observed during the Strange Situation when infants were 14 months old, and mothers reported on infants' behavior problems when infants were 27 months old. Over and above covariates, mothers' arousal and regulation while parenting interacted to predict infant attachment disorganization and behavior problems such that maternal arousal was associated with higher attachment disorganization and behavior problems when maternal regulation was low but not when maternal regulation was high. This effect was direct and not explained by maternal sensitivity. The results suggest that maternal physiological dysregulation while parenting places infants at risk for psychopathology.
The contribution of ‘environment’ has been investigated across diverse and multiple domains related to health. However, in the context of large-scale genomic studies the focus has been on obtaining individual-level endophenotypes with environment left for future decomposition. Geo-social research has indicated that environment-level variables can be reduced, and these composites can then be used with other variables as intuitive, precise representations of environment in research.
Using a large community sample (N = 9498) from the Philadelphia area, participant addresses were linked to 2010 census and crime data. These were then factor analyzed (exploratory factor analysis; EFA) to arrive at social and criminal dimensions of participants' environments. These were used to calculate environment-level scores, which were merged with individual-level variables. We estimated an exploratory multilevel structural equation model (MSEM) exploring associations among environment- and individual-level variables in diverse communities.
The EFAs revealed that census data was best represented by two factors, one socioeconomic status and one household/language. Crime data was best represented by a single crime factor. The MSEM variables had good fit (e.g. comparative fit index = 0.98), and revealed that environment had the largest association with neurocognitive performance (β = 0.41, p < 0.0005), followed by parent education (β = 0.23, p < 0.0005).
Environment-level variables can be combined to create factor scores or composites for use in larger statistical models. Our results are consistent with literature indicating that individual-level socio-demographic characteristics (e.g. race and gender) and aspects of familial social capital (e.g. parental education) have statistical relationships with neurocognitive performance.
Chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is a common genetic disorder with high rates of psychosis and other psychopathologies, but few studies discuss treatment. Our aim was to characterize the prevalence and treatment of major psychiatric illnesses in a well-characterized sample of individuals with 22q11DS.
This was a cross-sectional study of 112 individuals aged 8 to 45 years with a confirmed diagnosis of 22q11DS. Each participant was administered a modified Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children (K-SADS) and the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes (SIPS). Phenotypes assessed were threshold and subthreshold psychosis, depression, mania, generalized and separation anxiety, obsessions/compulsions, inattention/hyperactivity and substance use. Histories of mental health care and current psychotropic treatment were obtained.
Psychopathology was common, with 79% of individuals meeting diagnostic criteria for a disorder at the time of assessment. Diagnoses of psychosis were made in 11% of cases, attenuated positive symptom syndrome (APS) in 21%, and 47% experienced significant subthreshold symptoms. Peak occurrence of psychosis risk was during adolescence (62% of those aged 12–17 years). Criteria for a mood disorder were met by 14%, for anxiety disorder 34% and for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 31%. Mental health care had been received by 63% of individuals in their lifetime, but only 40% continued therapy and 39% used psychotropics. Antipsychotics were used by 42% of participants with psychosis and none of the participants with APS. Half of those at risk for psychosis were receiving no mental health care.
Psychopathology is common in 22q11DS but is not adequately treated or clinically followed. Particular attention should be paid to subthreshold psychotic symptoms, especially in adolescents.
Herpes virus infections can cause cognitive impairment during and after acute encephalitis. Although chronic, latent/persistent infection is considered to be relatively benign, some studies have documented cognitive impairment in exposed persons that is untraceable to encephalitis. These studies were conducted among schizophrenia (SZ) patients or older community dwellers, among whom it is difficult to control for the effects of co-morbid illness and medications. To determine whether the associations can be generalized to other groups, we examined a large sample of younger control individuals, SZ patients and their non-psychotic relatives (n=1852).
Using multivariate models, cognitive performance was evaluated in relation to exposures to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) and cytomegalovirus (CMV), controlling for familial and diagnostic status and sociodemographic variables, including occupation and educational status. Composite cognitive measures were derived from nine cognitive domains using principal components of heritability (PCH). Exposure was indexed by antibodies to viral antigens.
PCH1, the most heritable component of cognitive performance, declines with exposure to CMV or HSV-1 regardless of case/relative/control group status (p = 1.09 × 10−5 and 0.01 respectively), with stronger association with exposure to multiple herpes viruses (β = −0.25, p = 7.28 × 10−10). There were no significant interactions between exposure and group status.
Latent/persistent herpes virus infections can be associated with cognitive impairments regardless of other health status.
Psychotic symptoms, also termed psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) in the absence of psychotic disorder, are common in adolescents and are associated with increased risk of schizophrenia-spectrum illness in adulthood. At the same time, schizophrenia is associated with deficits in social cognition, with deficits particularly documented in facial emotion recognition (FER). However, little is known about the relationship between PLEs and FER abilities, with only one previous prospective study examining the association between these abilities in childhood and reported PLEs in adolescence. The current study was a cross-sectional investigation of the association between PLEs and FER in a sample of Irish adolescents.
The Adolescent Psychotic-Like Symptom Screener (APSS), a self-report measure of PLEs, and the Penn Emotion Recognition-40 Test (Penn ER-40), a measure of facial emotion recognition, were completed by 793 children aged 10–13 years.
Children who reported PLEs performed significantly more poorly on FER (β=−0.03, p=0.035). Recognition of sad faces was the major driver of effects, with children performing particularly poorly when identifying this expression (β=−0.08, p=0.032).
The current findings show that PLEs are associated with poorer FER. Further work is needed to elucidate causal relationships with implications for the design of future interventions for those at risk of developing psychosis.
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