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Atypical neurocognitive responses to emotional stimuli are core features of unipolar depression (UD) and bipolar disorder (BD). For mothers with these mood disorders, this may influence interactions with their infants and consequently infant development. The study aimed to investigate psychophysiological and cognitive responses to infant emotional stimuli, and their relation to mother–infant interaction and infant development, in mothers with BD or UD in full or partial remission.
Four months after birth, mothers' cognitive responses to emotional infant stimuli were assessed with computerized tasks, while their facial expressions, galvanic skin responses (GSR), gazes, and fixations were recorded. Infant development and mother–infant interactions were also assessed.
We included 76 mothers: 27 with BD, 13 with UD, and 36 without known psychiatric disorders, and their infants. Mothers with BD and UD were in full or partial remission and showed blunted GSR and spent less time looking at infant stimuli (unadjusted p values < 0.03). Mothers with BD showed subtle positive neurocognitive biases (unadjusted p values<0.04) and mothers with UD showed negative biases (unadjusted p values < 0.02). Across all mothers, some measures of atypical infant emotion processing correlated with some measures of delays in infant development and suboptimal mother–infant interaction (unadjusted p values<0.04).
Mothers with mood disorders in full or partial remission showed atypical cognitive and psychophysiological response to emotional infant stimuli, which could be associated with mother–infant interactions and infant development. The study is explorative, hypothesis generating, and should be replicated in a larger sample. Investigation of the long-term implications of reduced maternal sensitivity is warranted.
The typical onset of schizophrenia coincides with the maturational peak in cognition; however, for a significant proportion of patients the onset is before age 18 and after age 30 years. While cognitive deficits are considered core features of schizophrenia, few studies have directly examined the impact of age of illness onset on cognition.
The aim of the study was to examine if the effects of age on cognition differ between healthy controls (HCs) and patients with schizophrenia at illness onset. We examined 156 first-episode antipsychotic-naïve patients across a wide age span (12–43 years), and 161 age- and sex-matched HCs. Diagnoses were made according to ICD-10 criteria. Cognition was assessed using the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS), and IQ was estimated using subtests from the Wechsler adult- or child-intelligence scales. Multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) was used to examine linear and quadratic effects of age on cognitive scores and interactions by group, including sex and parental socioeconomic status as covariates.
There was a significant overall effect of age on BACS and IQ (p < 0.001). Significant group-by-age interactions for verbal memory (for age-squared, p = 0.009), and digit sequencing (for age, p = 0.01; age-squared, p < 0.001), indicated differential age-related trajectories between patients and HCs.
Cognitive functions showing protracted maturation into adulthood, such as verbal memory and verbal working memory, may be particularly impaired in both early- and late-schizophrenia onset. Our findings indicate a potential interaction between the timing of neurodevelopmental maturation and a possible premature age effect in late-onset schizophrenia.
Early identification is important for patients with early-onset schizophrenia (SZ). Assessment of (candidate) endophenotypic markers for SZ, such as prepulse inhibition of the startle reflex (PPI), may help distinguish between the early-onset SZ and other psychiatric disorders. We explored whether PPI deficits usually seen in adult-onset SZ are present in young adolescents with either early-onset psychosis or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Twenty-five adolescents with first-episode, non-affective psychosis (FEP), 28 adolescents with ADHD and 43 healthy controls (HC), aged 12–17 years, were assessed with an auditory PPI paradigm.
No significant group differences were found in PPI. However, when the FEP group was divided into those already diagnosed with SZ (n = 13) and those without (N-SZ) (n = 12), and all four groups (SZ, N-SZ, ADHD and HC) were compared on percentage PPI in the 85/60 trials, significantly less PPI was found in patients with SZ than in the HC as well as the ADHD group. No significant group differences were found in explorative analyses on the other trial types. Additionally, startle magnitude was significantly higher in SZ than in N-SZ patients.
Young adolescents with SZ showed sensorimotor gating deficits similar to those usually found in adults with SZ and had larger startle magnitude than patients with other types of non-affective early-onset psychosis. No sensorimotor gating deficits were found in adolescents with ADHD. Our findings support the theory that deficient PPI is endophenotypic for SZ.
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