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Patients with psychosis display the so-called ‘Jumping to Conclusions’ bias (JTC) – a tendency for hasty decision-making in probabilistic reasoning tasks. So far, only a few studies have evaluated the JTC bias in ‘at-risk mental state’ (ARMS) patients, specifically in ARMS samples fulfilling ‘ultra-high risk’ (UHR) criteria, thus not allowing for comparisons between different ARMS subgroups.
In the framework of the PREVENT (secondary prevention of schizophrenia) study, a JTC task was applied to 188 patients either fulfilling UHR criteria or presenting with cognitive basic symptoms (BS). Similar data were available for 30 healthy control participants matched for age, gender, education and premorbid verbal intelligence. ARMS patients were identified by the Structured Interview for Prodromal Symptoms (SIPS) and the Schizophrenia Proneness Instrument – Adult Version (SPI-A).
The mean number of draws to decision (DTD) significantly differed between ARM -subgroups: UHR patients made significantly less draws to make a decision than ARMS patients with only cognitive BS. Furthermore, UHR patients tended to fulfil behavioural criteria for JTC more often than BS patients. In a secondary analysis, ARMS patients were much hastier in their decision-making than controls. In patients, DTD was moderately associated with positive and negative symptoms as well as disorganization and excitement.
Our data indicate an enhanced JTC bias in the UHR group compared to ARMS patients with only cognitive BS. This underscores the importance of reasoning deficits within cognitive theories of the developing psychosis. Interactions with the liability to psychotic transitions and therapeutic interventions should be unravelled in longitudinal studies.
Metamemory describes the monitoring and knowledge about one's memory capabilities. Patients with schizophrenia have been found to be less able in differentiating between correct and false answers (smaller confidence gap) when asked to provide retrospective confidence ratings in previous studies. Furthermore, higher proportions of very-high-confident but false responses have been found in this patient group (high knowledge corruption). Whether and how these biases contribute to the early pathogenesis of psychosis is yet unclear. This study thus aimed at investigating metamemory function in the early course of psychosis.
Patients in an at-risk mental state for psychosis (ARMS, n = 34), patients with a first episode of psychosis (FEP, n = 21) and healthy controls (HCs, n = 38) were compared on a verbal recognition task combined with retrospective confidence-level ratings.
FEP patients showed the smallest confidence gap, followed by ARMS patients, followed by HCs. All groups differed significantly from each other. Regarding knowledge corruption, FEP patients differed significantly from HCs, whereas a statistical trend was revealed in comparison of ARMS and FEP groups. Correlations were revealed between metamemory, measures of positive symptoms and working memory performance.
These data underline the presence of a metamemory bias in ARMS patients which is even more pronounced in FEP patients. The bias might represent an early cognitive marker of the beginning psychotic state. Longitudinal studies are needed to unravel whether metacognitive deficits predict the transition to psychosis and to evaluate therapeutic interventions.
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