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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.
Epidemiological investigations show that up to 30% of schizophrenic patients suffer from obsessive–compulsive symptoms (OCS) associated with negative impact on the general prognosis. It has been proposed that antiserotonergic second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) might induce OCS, but investigations of large samples integrating psychopathology, neuropsychology and psychopharmacology are missing.
We stratified 70 patients with schizophrenia according to their mode of antipsychotic treatment: clozapine and olanzapine (group I) compared with aripiprazole and amisulpride (group II). The groups were matched according to age, sex, educational levels and severity of the psychotic disorder (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale). As the primary endpoint, we evaluated OCS severity (Yale–Brown Obsessive–Compulsive Scale).
OCS were significantly more prevalent and severe in group I, in which OCS severity correlated with dosage of clozapine and duration of treatment. Pronounced cognitive deficits in group I were found in visuospatial perception and visual memory (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised block design, Rey–Osterrieth Complex Figure Test), impulse inhibition (go/no-go test), higher perseveration scores (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test) and reduced set-shift abilities (Trail Making Test Part B, Set-shift Task). These cognitive domains correlated with OCS severity.
OCS in schizophrenia are associated with antiserotonergic SGA treatment, but longitudinal studies have to prove causality. Before starting treatment with antiserotonergic SGAs, specific neurocognitive domains should be evaluated, as visuospatial learning and impulse inhibition performance might allow early detection of OCS secondary to antipsychotic treatment in schizophrenia.
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