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The increased use of the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB) to investigate cognitive dysfunctions in schizophrenia fostered interest in its sensitivity in the context of family studies. As various measures of the same cognitive domains may have different power to distinguish between unaffected relatives of patients and controls, the relative sensitivity of MCCB tests for relative–control differences has to be established. We compared MCCB scores of 852 outpatients with schizophrenia (SCZ) with those of 342 unaffected relatives (REL) and a normative Italian sample of 774 healthy subjects (HCS). We examined familial aggregation of cognitive impairment by investigating within-family prediction of MCCB scores based on probands’ scores.
Multivariate analysis of variance was used to analyze group differences in adjusted MCCB scores. Weighted least-squares analysis was used to investigate whether probands’ MCCB scores predicted REL neurocognitive performance.
SCZ were significantly impaired on all MCCB domains. REL had intermediate scores between SCZ and HCS, showing a similar pattern of impairment, except for social cognition. Proband's scores significantly predicted REL MCCB scores on all domains except for visual learning.
In a large sample of stable patients with schizophrenia, living in the community, and in their unaffected relatives, MCCB demonstrated sensitivity to cognitive deficits in both groups. Our findings of significant within-family prediction of MCCB scores might reflect disease-related genetic or environmental factors.
The study aimed to subtype patients with schizophrenia on the basis of social cognition (SC), and to identify cut-offs that best discriminate among subtypes in 809 out-patients recruited in the context of the Italian Network for Research on Psychoses.
A two-step cluster analysis of The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT), the Facial Emotion Identification Test and Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test scores was performed. Classification and regression tree analysis was used to identify the cut-offs of variables that best discriminated among clusters.
We identified three clusters, characterized by unimpaired (42%), impaired (50.4%) and very impaired (7.5%) SC. Three theory-of-mind domains were more important for the cluster definition as compared with emotion perception and emotional intelligence. Patients more able to understand simple sarcasm (⩾14 for TASIT-SS) were very likely to belong to the unimpaired SC cluster. Compared with patients in the impaired SC cluster, those in the very impaired SC cluster performed significantly worse in lie scenes (TASIT-LI <10), but not in simple sarcasm. Moreover, functioning, neurocognition, disorganization and SC had a linear relationship across the three clusters, while positive symptoms were significantly lower in patients with unimpaired SC as compared with patients with impaired and very impaired SC. On the other hand, negative symptoms were highest in patients with impaired levels of SC.
If replicated, the identification of such subtypes in clinical practice may help in tailoring rehabilitation efforts to the person's strengths to gain more benefit to the person.
The neurobiological underpinnings of avolition in schizophrenia remain unclear. Most brain imaging research has focused on reward prediction deficit and on ventral striatum dysfunction, but findings are not consistent. In the light of accumulating evidence that both ventral striatum and dorsal caudate play a key role in motivation, we investigated ventral striatum and dorsal caudate activation during processing of reward or loss in patients with schizophrenia.
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study brain activation during a Monetary Incentive Delay task in patients with schizophrenia, treated with second-generation antipsychotics only, and in healthy controls (HC). We also assessed the relationships of ventral striatum and dorsal caudate activation with measures of hedonic experience and motivation.
The whole patient group had lower motivation but comparable hedonic experience and striatal activation than HC. Patients with high avolition scores showed lower dorsal caudate activation than both HC and patients with low avolition scores. A lower dorsal caudate activation was also observed in patients with deficit schizophrenia compared to HC and patients with non-deficit schizophrenia. Dorsal caudate activity during reward anticipation was significantly associated with avolition, but not with anhedonia in the patient group.
These findings suggest that avolition in schizophrenia is linked to dorsal caudate hypoactivation.
This study aimed to identify the course of unmet needs by patients with a first episode of schizophrenia and to determine associated variables.
We investigated baseline assessments in the European First Episode Schizophrenia Trial (EUFEST) and also follow-up interviews at 6 and 12 months. Latent class growth analysis was used to identify patient groups based on individual differences in the development of unmet needs. Multinomial logistic regression determined the predictors of group membership.
Four classes were identified. Three differed in their baseline levels of unmet needs whereas the fourth had a marked decrease in such needs. Main predictors of class membership were prognosis and depression at baseline, and the quality of life and psychosocial intervention at follow-up. Depression at follow-up did not vary among classes.
We identified subtypes of patients with different courses of unmet needs. Prognosis of clinical improvement was a better predictor for the decline in unmet needs than was psychopathology. Needs concerning social relationships were particularly persistent in patients who remained high in their unmet needs and who lacked additional psychosocial treatment.
Studies investigating neurocognitive impairment in subjects with eating disorders (EDs) have reported heterogeneous patterns of impairment and, in some instances, no dysfunction. The present study aimed to define the pattern of neurocognitive impairment in a large sample of bulimia nervosa (BN) patients and to demonstrate that neuroendocrine, personality and clinical characteristics influence neurocognitive performance in BN.
Attention/immediate memory, set shifting, perseveration, conditional and implicit learning were evaluated in 83 untreated female patients with BN and 77 healthy controls (HC). Cortisol and 17β-estradiol plasma levels were assessed. Cloninger's Temperament and Character Inventory – Revised (TCI-R), the Bulimic Investigation Test Edinburgh (BITE) and the Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) were administered.
No impairment of cognitive performance was found in subjects with BN compared with HC. Cortisol and ‘Self-directedness’ were associated with better performance on conditional learning whereas 17β-estradiol had a negative influence on this domain; ‘Reward dependence’ was associated with worse performance on implicit learning; and depressive symptomatology influenced performance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) negatively.
No cognitive impairment was found in untreated patients with BN. Neuroendocrine, personality and clinical variables do influence neurocognitive functioning and might explain discrepancies in literature findings.
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