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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.
Studies of happiness have examined the impact of demographics, personality and emotions accompanying daily activities on life satisfaction. We suggest that how people feel while contemplating aspects of their lives, including their weight, children and future prospects, is a promising yet uncharted territory within the internal landscape of life satisfaction. In a sample of 811 American women, we assessed women’s feelings when thinking about major life domains and frequency of thoughts about each domain. Regression and dominance analyses showed that emotional valence of thoughts about major life domains was an important predictor of current and prior life satisfaction, surpassing, in descending order, demographics, participants’ feelings during recent activities, and their neuroticism and extraversion scores. Domains thought about more frequently were often associated with greater emotional valence. These results suggest that life satisfaction may be improved by modifying emotional valence and frequency of thoughts about life domains. Moreover, these thoughts appear to be an important and relatively stable component of well-being worthy of further study.
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.
Questions remain regarding whether genetic influences on early life psychopathology overlap with cognition and show developmental variation.
Using data from 9,421 individuals aged 8–21 from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, factors of psychopathology were generated using a bifactor model of item-level data from a psychiatric interview. Five orthogonal factors were generated: anxious-misery (mood and anxiety), externalizing (attention deficit hyperactivity and conduct disorder), fear (phobias), psychosis-spectrum, and a general factor. Genetic analyses were conducted on a subsample of 4,662 individuals of European American ancestry. A genetic relatedness matrix was used to estimate heritability of these factors, and genetic correlations with executive function, episodic memory, complex reasoning, social cognition, motor speed, and general cognitive ability. Gene × Age analyses determined whether genetic influences on these factors show developmental variation.
Externalizing was heritable (h2 = 0.46, p = 1 × 10−6), but not anxious-misery (h2 = 0.09, p = 0.183), fear (h2 = 0.04, p = 0.337), psychosis-spectrum (h2 = 0.00, p = 0.494), or general psychopathology (h2 = 0.21, p = 0.040). Externalizing showed genetic overlap with face memory (ρg = −0.412, p = 0.004), verbal reasoning (ρg = −0.485, p = 0.001), spatial reasoning (ρg = −0.426, p = 0.010), motor speed (ρg = 0.659, p = 1x10−4), verbal knowledge (ρg = −0.314, p = 0.002), and general cognitive ability (g)(ρg = −0.394, p = 0.002). Gene × Age analyses revealed decreasing genetic variance (γg = −0.146, p = 0.004) and increasing environmental variance (γe = 0.059, p = 0.009) on externalizing.
Cognitive impairment may be a useful endophenotype of externalizing psychopathology and, therefore, help elucidate its pathophysiological underpinnings. Decreasing genetic variance suggests that gene discovery efforts may be more fruitful in children than adolescents or young adults.
Assessment of risks of illnesses has been an important part of medicine for decades. We now have hundreds of ‘risk calculators’ for illnesses, including brain disorders, and these calculators are continually improving as more diverse measures are collected on larger samples.
We first replicated an existing psychosis risk calculator and then used our own sample to develop a similar calculator for use in recruiting ‘psychosis risk’ enriched community samples. We assessed 632 participants age 8–21 (52% female; 48% Black) from a community sample with longitudinal data on neurocognitive, clinical, medical, and environmental variables. We used this information to predict psychosis spectrum (PS) status in the future. We selected variables based on lasso, random forest, and statistical inference relief; and predicted future PS using ridge regression, random forest, and support vector machines.
Cross-validated prediction diagnostics were obtained by building and testing models in randomly selected sub-samples of the data, resulting in a distribution of the diagnostics; we report the mean. The strongest predictors of later PS status were the Children's Global Assessment Scale; delusions of predicting the future or having one's thoughts/actions controlled; and the percent married in one's neighborhood. Random forest followed by ridge regression was most accurate, with a cross-validated area under the curve (AUC) of 0.67. Adjustment of the model including only six variables reached an AUC of 0.70.
Results support the potential application of risk calculators for screening and identification of at-risk community youth in prospective investigations of developmental trajectories of the PS.
This study evaluated the efficacy of a family-centered preventive intervention, the Family Check-Up (FCU), delivered as an online, eHealth model to middle school families. To increase accessibility of family-centered prevention in schools, we adapted the evidence-based FCU to an online format, with the goal of providing a model of service delivery that is feasible, given limited staffing and resources in many schools. Building on prior research, we randomly assigned participants to waitlist control (n = 105), FCU Online as a web-based intervention (n = 109), and FCU Online with coaching support (n = 108). We tested the effects of the intervention on multiple outcomes, including parental self-efficacy, child self-regulation, and child behavior, in this registered clinical trial (NCT03060291). Families engaged in the intervention at a high rate (72% completed the FCU assessment) and completed 3-month posttest assessments with good retention (94% retained). Random assignment to the FCU Online with coaching support was associated with reduced emotional problems for children (p = .003, d = −0.32) and improved parental confidence and self-efficacy (p = .018, d = 0.25) when compared with waitlist controls. Risk moderated effects: at-risk youth showed stronger effects than did those with minimal risk. The results have implications for online delivery of family-centered interventions in schools.
Although there are extensive data on clinical psychopathology in youth with suicidal ideation, data are lacking regarding their neurocognitive function.
To characterise the cognitive profile of youth with suicidal ideation in a community sample and evaluate gender differences and pubertal status effects.
Participants (N = 6151, age 11–21 years, 54.9% females) from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, a non-help-seeking community sample, underwent detailed clinical evaluation. Cognitive phenotyping included executive functioning, episodic memory, complex reasoning and social cognitive functioning. We compared participants with suicidal ideation (N = 672) and without suicidal ideation (N = 5479). Regression models were employed to evaluate differences in cognitive performance and functional level, with gender and pubertal status as independent variables. Models controlled for lifetime depression or general psychopathology, and for covariates including age and socioeconomic status.
Youth with suicidal ideation showed greater psychopathology, poorer level of function but better overall neurocognitive performance. Greater functional impairment was observed in females with suicidal ideation (suicidal ideation × gender interaction, t = 3.091, P = 0.002). Greater neurocognition was associated with suicidal ideation post-puberty (suicidal ideation × puberty interaction, t = 3.057, P = 0.002). Exploratory analyses of specific neurocognitive domains showed that suicidal ideation-associated cognitive superiority was more prominent in post-pubertal males compared with females (Cohen's d = 0.32 and d = 0.11, respectively) across all cognitive domains.
Suicidal ideation was associated with poorer functioning yet better cognitive performance, especially in post-pubertal males, as measured by a comprehensive cognitive battery. Findings point to gender and pubertal-status specificity in the relationship between suicidal ideation, cognition and function in youth.
Declaration of interest
R.B. serves on the scientific board and reports stock ownership in ‘Taliaz Health’, with no conflict of interest relevant to this work. M.A.O. receives royalties for the commercial use of the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale from the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene. Her family owns stock in Bristol-Myers Squibb. All other authors declare no potential conflict of interest.
Traumatic stressors during childhood and adolescence are associated with psychopathology, mostly studied in the context of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. We investigated broader associations of traumatic stress exposure with psychopathology and cognition in a youth community sample.
The Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort (N = 9498) is an investigation of clinical and neurobehavioral phenotypes in a diverse (56% Caucasian, 33% African American, 11% other) US youth community population (aged 8–21). Participants were ascertained through children's hospital pediatric (not psychiatric) healthcare network in 2009–2011. Structured psychiatric evaluation included screening for lifetime exposure to traumatic stressors, and a neurocognitive battery was administered.
Exposure rate to traumatic stressful events was high (none, N = 5204; one, N = 2182; two, N = 1092; three or more, N = 830). Higher stress load was associated with increased psychopathology across all clinical domains evaluated: mood/anxiety (standardized β = .378); psychosis spectrum (β = .360); externalizing behaviors (β = .311); and fear (β = .256) (controlling for covariates, all p < 0.001). Associations remained significant controlling for lifetime PTSD and depression. Exposure to high-stress load was robustly associated with suicidal ideation and cannabis use (odds ratio compared with non-exposed 5.3 and 3.2, respectively, both p < 0.001). Among youths who experienced traumatic stress (N = 4104), history of assaultive trauma was associated with greater psychopathology and, in males, vulnerability to psychosis and externalizing symptoms. Stress load was negatively associated with performance on executive functioning, complex reasoning, and social cognition.
Traumatic stress exposure in community non-psychiatric help-seeking youth is substantial, and is associated with more severe psychopathology and neurocognitive deficits across domains, beyond PTSD and depression.
Objectives: Numerous studies have shown that individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) display reduced performances on neuropsychological tests, although most prior research has not adequately accounted for comorbidities or performance validity concerns that are common in this population and could partially account for the observed neurocognitive findings. Moreover, few studies have examined the functional implications of neuropsychological results in PTSD. Methods: We examined neuropsychological functioning in 44 veterans with PTSD and 40 veteran trauma comparison (TC) participants with combat exposure and no PTSD. Results: After excluding four veterans with PTSD for performance validity concerns, multivariate analyses of variance by neurocognitive domain revealed significantly worse performance by the PTSD group in the domains of speed of information processing (p=.035) and executive functions (p=.017), but no group differences in attention/working memory, verbal/language functioning, visuoconstruction, or episodic memory. Group differences by PTSD status were still present after covarying for depression, a history of head injuries, and substance use disorders. Executive functioning performance was associated with poorer self-reported occupational functioning and physical health-related quality of life, while speed of information processing performance was associated with poorer physical health-related quality of life. Discussion: These results are generally consistent with a fronto-limbic conceptualization of PTSD-associated neuropsychological dysfunction and show that cognitive functioning may be associated with critical functional outcomes. Taken together, results suggest that consideration of neurocognitive functioning may enhance the clinical management of individuals with PTSD. (JINS, 2016, 22, 399–411)