The results of investigations on the cognitive outcomes of adolescents exposed prenatally to radiation from Chernobyl are inconsistent. In 2005 through 2006, we assessed individuals exposed prenatally (N = 84) and controls (N = 94) using a broad neuropsychological test battery. Neuropsychological performance was significantly weaker in the 84 adolescents exposed prenatally compared to the 94 controls on measures of verbal working memory, verbal memory, and executive functioning when controlling for possible confounders. Our findings add new and important support to the hypothesis that the Chernobyl accident had a specific effect on the neuropsychological functioning of those exposed prenatally.
Identifying patients at risk of poor outcome at an early stage of illness can aid in treatment planning. This study sought to create a best-fit statistical model of known baseline and early-course risk factors to predict time in psychosis during a ten-year follow-up period after a first psychotic episode.
Between 1997 and 2000, 301 patients with DSM-IV nonorganic, nonaffective first-episode psychosis were recruited consecutively from catchment area-based sectors in Norway and Denmark. Specialized mental health personnel evaluated patients at baseline, three months, and one, two, five, and ten years (N=186 at ten years). Time in psychosis was defined as time with scores =4 on any of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale items P1, P3, P5, P6, and G9. Evaluations were retrospective, based on clinical interviews and all available clinical information. During the first two years, patients were also evaluated by their clinicians at least biweekly. Baseline and early-course predictors of long-term course were identified with linear mixed-model analyses.
Four variables provided significant, additive predictions of longer time in psychosis during the ten-year follow-up: deterioration in premorbid social functioning, duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) of =26 weeks, core schizophrenia spectrum disorder, and no remission within three months.
First-episode psychosis patients should be followed carefully after the start of treatment. If symptoms do not remit within three months with adequate treatment, there is a considerable risk of a poor long-term outcome, particularly for patients with a deterioration in premorbid social functioning, a DUP of at least half a year, and a diagnosis within the core schizophrenia spectrum.
Major depression is associated with impairment of cognitive functions, and especially higher-order cognitive processes referred to as executive functions (EF). Whether this is a general finding is unclear. Patients without EF impairment may have different treatment needs than patients with EF impairment, and will probably have a better everyday functioning. Thus, it is important to identify the prevalence and characteristics of depressed patients without EF impairment. Forty-three patients with recurrent major depressive disorder (19-51 years) and 50 healthy controls were included in the study. The subjects were assessed with neuropsychological tests selected to measure central areas of EF, and screened on clinical and demographic variables. Within the depressed group, a total of 56% were defined as EF unimpaired. These patients were characterised by higher intellectual abilities and fewer depression episodes than the subgroup of patients with EF impairment. The subgroups were similar in age at debut of illness, severity of depression, general psychopathology and global level of functioning. In conclusion, about half of patients with recurrent major depression have normal EF. Since cognitive impairment and depressive symptomatology seem to be distinct dimensions, a neuropsychological investigation could help to ensure optimal treatment in patients with recurrent major depression.
Obstetric complications (OC) have been linked to an increased risk for schizophrenia in offspring, especially in early-onset schizophrenia (EOS). Extensive cognitive deficits occur in EOS, although no study has yet to investigate the relationship between OC and cognition in EOS. This study aims to examine the frequency of OC in EOS compared to controls, and also investigates the relationship between OC and neurocognitive dysfunction in the two groups. Nineteen EOS patients and 53 healthy controls were tested with the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB), and the cognitive measures were combined with OC data from the Norwegian Birth Registry. The results indicated no group differences in OC in EOS and healthy controls, but a shorter gestational length in the EOS group led to significant decreases in the overall neurocognitive composite score, and in processing speed. This suggests that the poorer neuropsychological performances commonly found in EOS may be partly attributable to the length of gestation. The worsened neurocognitive functioning did not appear among controls, so gestational length had a different impact on the two groups. Our findings indicated that a shorter gestational length did not increase the risk for developing EOS, but did significantly affect the cognitive difficulties in this group.
Early detection in first-episode psychosis confers advantages for negative, cognitive, and depressive symptoms after 1, 2, and 5 years, but longitudinal effects are unknown. The authors investigated the differences in symptoms and recovery after 10 years between regional health care sectors with and without a comprehensive program for the early detection of psychosis.
The authors evaluated 281 patients (early detection, N=141) 18 to 65 years old with a first episode of nonaffective psychosis between 1997 and 2001. Of these, 101 patients in the early-detection area and 73 patients in the usual-detection area were followed up at 10 years, and the authors compared their symptoms and recovery.
A significantly higher percentage of early-detection patients had recovered at the 10-year follow-up relative to usual-detection patients. This held true despite more severely ill patients dropping out of the study in the usual-detection area. Except for higher levels of excitative symptoms in the early-detection area, there were no symptom differences between the groups. Early-detection recovery rates were higher largely because of higher employment rates for patients in this group.
Early detection of first-episode psychosis appears to increase the chances of milder deficits and superior functioning. The mechanisms by which this strategy improves the long-term prognosis of psychosis remain speculative. Nevertheless, our findings over 10 years may indicate that a prognostic link exists between the timing of intervention and outcome that deserves additional study.
Comment In: Am J Psychiatry. 2012 Sep;169(9):992; author reply 992-322952080
Comment In: Am J Psychiatry. 2012 Apr;169(4):345-722476671
Neurocognitive impairment is a core feature in psychotic disorders and the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB) is now widely used to assess neurocognition in this group. The MATRICS has been translated into several languages, including Norwegian; although this version has yet to be investigated in an adult clinical population. Further, the relationship between the MATRICS and different measures of functioning needs examination. The purpose of this study was to describe neurocognition assessed with the Norwegian version of the MATRICS battery in a sample of patients with psychotic disorders compared to age and gender matched healthy controls and to examine the association with educational-, occupational- and social-functioning in the patient group. One hundred and thirty one patients and 137 healthy controls completed the battery. The Norwegian version of the MATRICS was sensitive to the magnitude of neurocognitive impairments in patients with psychotic disorders, with patients displaying significant impairments on all domains relative to healthy controls. Neurocognition was also related to both self-rated and objective functional measures such as social functioning, educational- and employment-history.
Neurocognitive impairments have been documented in adolescents with early-onset schizophrenia (EOS). There is still inconsistency regarding an average profile, which could be due to the fact that each study uses different tests. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the "Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia" (MATRICS) battery is useful in detecting differences between the patient group and the healthy controls, and to describe the neuropsychological pattern in the EOS group.
Neuropsychological functioning was examined in 31 adolescents with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and 67 healthy controls, using the MATRICS battery.
There were significant differences between the patients and the controls on every domain except for social cognition. Patients showed a generalized neurocognitive deficit of 0.8-1.8 SDs compared with controls, with verbal learning, working memory, and visual learning being the most affected areas.
The MATRICS battery is sensitive in detecting differences between patients and controls in the adolescent population. However, we question the use of Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test in this age group. Results document a significant generalized deficit in adolescents with EOS.
Cites: Schizophr Res. 1998 Nov 30;34(3):195-2059850986
BACKGROUND: Early detection programmes aim to reduce the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) by public education and by prompt access to treatment via active outreach detection teams. AIMS: To determine whether those with first-episode psychosis in an early detection healthcare area with existing referral channels differ from those who access care via detection teams. METHOD: Those with first-episode psychosis recruited via detection teams were compared with those accessing treatment via conventional channels, at baseline and after 3 months of acute treatment. RESULTS: Patients recruited via detection teams are younger males with a longer DUP, a less dramatic symptom picture and better functioning; however they recover more slowly, and have more symptoms at 3-month follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: After establishing low threshold active case-seeking detection teams, we found clear differences between those patients entering treatment via detection teams v. those obtaining treatment via the usual channels. Such profiling may be informative for early detection service development.
First episode psychosis (FEP) patients have an increased risk for violence and criminal activity prior to initial treatment. However, little is known about the prevalence of criminality and acts of violence many years after implementation of treatment for a first episode psychosis.
To assess the prevalence of criminal and violent behaviors during a 10-year follow-up period after the debut of a first psychosis episode, and to identify early predictors and concomitant risk factors of violent behavior.
A prospective design was used with comprehensive assessments of criminal behavior, drug abuse, clinical, social and treatment variables at baseline, five, and 10-year follow-up. Additionally, threatening and violent behavior was assessed at 10-year follow-up. A clinical epidemiological sample of first-episode psychosis patients (n=178) was studied.
During the 10-year follow-up period, 20% of subjects had been apprehended or incarcerated. At 10-year follow-up, 15% of subjects had exposed others to threats or violence during the year before assessment. Illegal drug use at baseline and five-year follow-up, and a longer duration of psychotic symptoms were found to be predictive of violent behavior during the year preceding the 10-year follow-up.
After treatment initiation, the overall prevalence of violence in psychotic patients drops gradually to rates close to those of the general population. However, persistent illicit drug abuse is a serious risk factor for violent behavior, even long after the start of treatment. Achieving remission early and reducing substance abuse may contribute to a lower long-term risk for violent behavior in FEP patients.
Studies of localized brain dysfunctions have revealed connections between patterns of cognitive dysfunction and specific profiles of memory impairment. The amnesic type of memory impairment is defined by deficits in both free recall and recognition memory, whereas the dysexecutive memory impairment is characterized by retrieval deficits, i.e. a disproportional impairment in free recall relative to recognition memory. The present study tests whether classifications of psychiatric patients into recall impaired only (= RO group) and Recall and Recognition impaired (= RR group) correspond to the executive type and amnesic type of memory impairment. The alternative hypothesis is that the two groups merely differ in degree of neuropsychological and psychiatric disturbance. Forty-four subjects impaired on California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) were selected from a larger database of 103 impaired and non-impaired subjects with schizophrenia or recurrent major depression. Subjects were classified into RO and RR groups and compared on measures of memory strategy (recency effect and interference on CVLT), overall neuropsychological function (Stroop Test and WAIS-R similarity) and psychiatric symptom load (positive and negative symptoms). Repeated measures ANOVA showed no effects of group, i.e. the RR group did not perform consistently below the RO group with regard to memory strategy, neuropsychological function or psychiatric symptom load. Two out of three analyses showed group x test interaction, supporting the dissociation of distinct executive and amnesic profiles among psychiatric patients. The RO group was more susceptible to interference but had better recency score than the RR group. The RO had higher negative symptoms while the RR group had higher positive symptoms.