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Basic Self disturbances (BSD), including changes of the 'pre-reflexive' sense of self and the loss first-person perspective, are characteristic of the schizophrenic spectrum disorders and highly prevalent in subjects at 'ultra high risk' for psychosis (UHR). The current literature indicates that cortical midline structures (CMS) may be implicated in the neurobiological substrates of the 'basic self' in healthy controls.
Neuroanatomical investigation of BSD in a UHR sample
To test the hypotheses :(i) UHR subjects have higher 'Examination of Anomalous Self Experience, EASE' scores as compared to controls, (ii) UHR subjects have neuroanatomical alterations as compared to controls in CMS, (iii) within UHR subjects, EASE scores are directly related to structural CMS alterations.
32 HR subjects (27 antipsychotics-naïve) and 17 healthy controls (HC) were assessed with the 57-items semi-structured EASE interview. Voxel-Based Morphometry (VBM) was conducted in the same subjects, with a-priori Region of Interests (ROIs) defined in the CMS (anterior/posterior cingulate and medial-prefrontal cortex).
Despite high variability in the HR group, the overall EASE score was higher (t-test >0.01, Cohen's d =2.91) in HR (mean=30.15, SD=16.46) as compared to HC group (mean=1.79, SD=2.83). UHR subjects had gray matter reduction in CMS as compared to HC (p>0.05 FWE-corrected). Across the whole sample, lower gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate was correlated with higher EASE scores (p>0.05).
This study provides preliminary evidence that gray matter reductions in the CMS are correlated with BSD in UHR people.
Recent randomized controlled trials suggest some efficacy for focused interventions in subjects at high risk (HR) for psychosis. However, treating HR subjects within the real-world setting of prodromal services is hindered by several practical problems that can significantly make an impact on the effect of focused interventions.
All subjects referred to Outreach and Support in South London (OASIS) and diagnosed with a HR state in the period 2001–2012 were included (n = 258). Exposure to focused interventions was correlated with sociodemographic and clinical characteristics at baseline. Their association with longitudinal clinical and functional outcomes was addressed at follow-up.
In a mean follow-up time of 6 years (s.d. = 2.5 years) a transition risk of 18% was observed. Of the sample, 33% were treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) only; 17% of subjects received antipsychotics (APs) in addition to CBT sessions. Another 17% of subjects were prescribed with antidepressants (ADs) in addition to CBT. Of the sample, 20% were exposed to a combination of interventions. Focused interventions had a significant relationship with transition to psychosis. The CBT + AD intervention was associated with a reduced risk of transition to psychosis, as compared with the CBT + AP intervention (hazards ratio = 0.129, 95% confidence interval 0.030–0.565, p = 0.007).
There were differential associations with transition outcome for AD v. AP interventions in addition to CBT in HR subjects. These effects were not secondary to baseline differences in symptom severity.
The majority of people at ultra high risk (UHR) of psychosis also present with co-morbid affective disorders such as depression or anxiety. The neuroanatomical and clinical impact of UHR co-morbidity is unknown.
We investigated group differences in grey matter volume using baseline magnetic resonance images from 121 participants in four groups: UHR with depressive or anxiety co-morbidity; UHR alone; major depressive disorder; and healthy controls. The impact of grey matter volume on baseline and longitudinal clinical/functional data was assessed with regression analyses.
The UHR-co-morbidity group had lower grey matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex than the UHR-alone group, with an intermediate effect between controls and patients with major depressive disorder. In the UHR-co-morbidity group, baseline anterior cingulate volume was negatively correlated with baseline suicidality/self-harm and obsessive–compulsive disorder symptoms.
Co-morbid depression and anxiety disorders contributed distinctive grey matter volume reductions of the anterior cingulate cortex in people at UHR of psychosis. These volumetric deficits were correlated with baseline measures of depression and anxiety, suggesting that co-morbid depressive and anxiety diagnoses should be carefully considered in future clinical and imaging studies of the psychosis high-risk state.
Grey matter volume and cortical thickness represent two complementary aspects of brain structure. Several studies have described reductions in grey matter volume in people at ultra-high risk (UHR) of psychosis; however, little is known about cortical thickness in this group. The aim of the present study was to investigate cortical thickness alterations in UHR subjects and compare individuals who subsequently did and did not develop psychosis.
We examined magnetic resonance imaging data collected at four different scanning sites. The UHR subjects were followed up for at least 2 years. Subsequent to scanning, 50 UHR subjects developed psychosis and 117 did not. Cortical thickness was examined in regions previously identified as sites of neuroanatomical alterations in UHR subjects, using voxel-based cortical thickness.
At baseline UHR subjects, compared with controls, showed reduced cortical thickness in the right parahippocampal gyrus (p < 0.05, familywise error corrected). There were no significant differences in cortical thickness between the UHR subjects who later developed psychosis and those who did not.
These data suggest that UHR symptomatology is characterized by alterations in the thickness of the medial temporal cortex. We did not find evidence that the later progression to psychosis was linked to additional alterations in cortical thickness, although we cannot exclude the possibility that the study lacked sufficient power to detect such differences.
At present there are no objective, biological markers that can be used to reliably identify individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study assessed the diagnostic potential of structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) for identifying trauma-exposed individuals with and without PTSD.
sMRI scans were acquired from 50 survivors of the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 who had developed PTSD, 50 survivors who had not developed PTSD and 40 healthy controls who had not been exposed to the earthquake. Support vector machine (SVM), a multivariate pattern recognition technique, was used to develop an algorithm that distinguished between the three groups at an individual level. The accuracy of the algorithm and its statistical significance were estimated using leave-one-out cross-validation and permutation testing.
When survivors with PTSD were compared against healthy controls, both grey and white matter allowed discrimination with an accuracy of 91% (p < 0.001). When survivors without PTSD were compared against healthy controls, the two groups could be discriminated with accuracies of 76% (p < 0.001) and 85% (p < 0.001) based on grey and white matter, respectively. Finally, when survivors with and without PTSD were compared directly, grey matter allowed discrimination with an accuracy of 67% (p < 0.001); in contrast the two groups could not be distinguished based on white matter.
These results reveal patterns of neuroanatomical alterations that could be used to inform the identification of trauma survivors with and without PTSD at the individual level, and provide preliminary support to the development of SVM as a clinically useful diagnostic aid.
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