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Cognitive deficits may be characteristic for only a subgroup of first-episode psychosis (FEP) and the link with clinical and functional outcomes is less profound than previously thought. This study aimed to identify cognitive subgroups in a large sample of FEP using a clustering approach with healthy controls as a reference group, subsequently linking cognitive subgroups to clinical and functional outcomes.
204 FEP patients were included. Hierarchical cluster analysis was performed using baseline brief assessment of cognition in schizophrenia (BACS). Cognitive subgroups were compared to 40 controls and linked to longitudinal clinical and functional outcomes (PANSS, GAF, self-reported WHODAS 2.0) up to 12-month follow-up.
Three distinct cognitive clusters emerged: relative to controls, we found one cluster with preserved cognition (n = 76), one moderately impaired cluster (n = 74) and one severely impaired cluster (n = 54). Patients with severely impaired cognition had more severe clinical symptoms at baseline, 6- and 12-month follow-up as compared to patients with preserved cognition. General functioning (GAF) in the severely impaired cluster was significantly lower than in those with preserved cognition at baseline and showed trend-level effects at 6- and 12-month follow-up. No significant differences in self-reported functional outcome (WHODAS 2.0) were present.
Current results demonstrate the existence of three distinct cognitive subgroups, corresponding with clinical outcome at baseline, 6- and 12-month follow-up. Importantly, the cognitively preserved subgroup was larger than the severely impaired group. Early identification of discrete cognitive profiles can offer valuable information about the clinical outcome but may not be relevant in predicting self-reported functional outcomes.
Childhood trauma increases risk for psychopathology and cognitive impairment. Prior research mainly focused on the hippocampus and amygdala in single diagnostic categories. However, other brain regions may be impacted by trauma as well, and effects may be independent of diagnosis. This cross-sectional study investigated cortical and subcortical gray matter volume in relation to childhood trauma severity.
We included 554 participants: 250 bipolar-I patients, 84 schizophrenia-spectrum patients and 220 healthy individuals without a psychiatric history. Participants filled in the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Anatomical T1 MRI scans were acquired at 3T, regional brain morphology was assessed using Freesurfer.
In the total sample, trauma-related gray matter reductions were found in the frontal lobe (β = −0.049, p = 0.008; q = 0.048), this effect was driven by the right medial orbitofrontal, paracentral, superior frontal regions and the left precentral region. No trauma-related volume reductions were observed in any other (sub)cortical lobes nor the hippocampus or amygdala, trauma-by-group (i.e. both patient groups and healthy subjects) interaction effects were absent. A categorical approach confirmed a pattern of more pronounced frontal gray matter reductions in individuals reporting multiple forms of trauma and across quartiles of cumulative trauma scores. Similar dose−response patterns were revealed within the bipolar and healthy subgroups, but did not reach significance in schizophrenia-spectrum patients.
Findings show that childhood trauma is linked to frontal gray matter reductions, independent of psychiatric morbidity. Our results indicate that childhood trauma importantly contributes to the neurobiological changes commonly observed across psychiatric disorders. Frontal volume alterations may underpin affective and cognitive disturbances observed in trauma-exposed individuals.
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