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Psychosis spectrum disorder is a heterogeneous, multifactorial clinical phenotype, known to have a high heritability, only a minor portion of which can be explained by molecular measures of genetic variation. This study proposes that the identification of genetic variation underlying psychotic disorder may have suffered due to issues in the psychometric conceptualization of the phenotype. Here we aim to open a new line of research into the genetics of mental disorders by explicitly incorporating genes into symptom networks. Specifically, we investigate whether links between a polygenic risk score (PRS) for schizophrenia and measures of psychosis proneness can be identified in a network model.
We analyzed data from n = 2180 subjects (controls, patients diagnosed with a non-affective psychotic disorder, and the first-degree relatives of the patients). A network structure was computed to examine associations between the 42 symptoms of the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences (CAPE) and the PRS for schizophrenia.
The resulting network shows that the PRS is directly connected to the spectrum of positive and depressive symptoms, with the items conspiracy and no future being more often located on predictive pathways from PRS to other symptoms.
To our knowledge, the current exploratory study provides a first application of the network framework to the field of behavior genetics research. This allows for a novel outlook on the investigation of the relations between genome-wide association study-based PRSs and symptoms of mental disorders, by focusing on the dependencies among variables.
Conceptualizing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms as a dynamic system of causal elements could provide valuable insights into the way that PTSD develops and is maintained in traumatized individuals. We present the first study to apply a multilevel network model to produce an exploratory empirical conceptualization of dynamic networks of PTSD symptoms, using data collected during a period of conflict.
Intensive longitudinal assessment data were collected during the Israel–Gaza War in July–August 2014. The final sample (n = 96) comprised a general population sample of Israeli adult civilians exposed to rocket fire. Participants completed twice-daily reports of PTSD symptoms via smartphone for 30 days. We used a multilevel vector auto-regression model to produce contemporaneous and temporal networks, and a partial correlation network model to obtain a between-subjects network.
Multilevel network analysis found strong positive contemporaneous associations between hypervigilance and startle response, avoidance of thoughts and avoidance of reminders, and between flashbacks and emotional reactivity. The temporal network indicated the central role of startle response as a predictor of future PTSD symptomatology, together with restricted affect, blame, negative emotions, and avoidance of thoughts. There were some notable differences between the temporal and contemporaneous networks, including the presence of a number of negative associations, particularly from blame. The between-person network indicated flashbacks and emotional reactivity to be the most central symptoms.
This study suggests various symptoms that could potentially be driving the development of PTSD. We discuss clinical implications such as identifying particular symptoms as targets for interventions.
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