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Neuropsychiatric disorders are common in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11DS) with about 25% of affected individuals developing schizophrenia spectrum disorders by young adulthood. Longitudinal evaluation of psychosis spectrum features and neurocognition can establish developmental trajectories and impact on functional outcome.
157 youth with 22q11DS were assessed longitudinally for psychopathology focusing on psychosis spectrum symptoms, neurocognitive performance and global functioning. We contrasted the pattern of positive and negative psychosis spectrum symptoms and neurocognitive performance differentiating those with more prominent Psychosis Spectrum symptoms (PS+) to those without prominent psychosis symptoms (PS−).
We identified differences in the trajectories of psychosis symptoms and neurocognitive performance between the groups. The PS+ group showed age associated increase in symptom severity, especially negative symptoms and general nonspecific symptoms. Correspondingly, their level of functioning was worse and deteriorated more steeply than the PS− group. Neurocognitive performance was generally comparable in PS+ and PS− groups and demonstrated a similar age-related trajectory. However, worsening executive functioning distinguished the PS+ group from PS− counterparts. Notably, of the three executive function measures examined, only working memory showed a significant difference between the groups in rate of change. Finally, structural equation modeling showed that neurocognitive decline drove the clinical change.
Youth with 22q11DS and more prominent psychosis features show worsening of symptoms and functional decline driven by neurocognitive decline, most related to executive functions and specifically working memory. The results underscore the importance of working memory in the developmental progression of psychosis.
Data from neurocognitive assessments may not be accurate in the context of factors impacting validity, such as disengagement, unmotivated responding, or intentional underperformance. Performance validity tests (PVTs) were developed to address these phenomena and assess underperformance on neurocognitive tests. However, PVTs can be burdensome, rely on cutoff scores that reduce information, do not examine potential variations in task engagement across a battery, and are typically not well-suited to acquisition of large cognitive datasets. Here we describe the development of novel performance validity measures that could address some of these limitations by leveraging psychometric concepts using data embedded within the Penn Computerized Neurocognitive Battery (PennCNB).
We first developed these validity measures using simulations of invalid response patterns with parameters drawn from real data. Next, we examined their application in two large, independent samples: 1) children and adolescents from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort (n = 9498); and 2) adult servicemembers from the Marine Resiliency Study-II (n = 1444).
Our performance validity metrics detected patterns of invalid responding in simulated data, even at subtle levels. Furthermore, a combination of these metrics significantly predicted previously established validity rules for these tests in both developmental and adult datasets. Moreover, most clinical diagnostic groups did not show reduced validity estimates.
These results provide proof-of-concept evidence for multivariate, data-driven performance validity metrics. These metrics offer a novel method for determining the performance validity for individual neurocognitive tests that is scalable, applicable across different tests, less burdensome, and dimensional. However, more research is needed into their application.
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