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Hum Brain Mapp. 2012 Sep;33(9):2104-24. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21342. Epub 2011 Aug 30.

Multivariate patterns of brain-cognition associations relating to vulnerability and clinical outcome in the at-risk mental states for psychosis.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ludwig-Maximilian-University, Munich, Germany.



Neuropsychological deficits are a core feature of established psychosis and have been previously linked to fronto-temporo-limbic brain alterations. Both neurocognitive and neuroanatomical abnormalities characterize clinical at-risk mental states (ARMS) for psychosis. However, structure-cognition relationships in the ARMS have not been directly explored using multivariate neuroimaging techniques.


Voxel-based morphometry and partial least squares were employed to study system-level covariance patterns between whole-brain morphological data and processing speed, working memory, verbal learning/IQ, and executive functions in 40 ARMS subjects and 30 healthy controls (HC). The detected structure-cognition covariance patterns were tested for significance and reliability using non-parametric permutation and bootstrap resampling.


We identified ARMS-specific covariance patterns that described a generalized association of neurocognitive measures with predominantly prefronto-temporo-limbic and subcortical structures as well as the interconnecting white matter. In the conversion group, this generalized profile particularly involved working memory and verbal IQ and was positively correlated with limbic, insular and subcortical volumes as well as negatively related to prefrontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital cortices. Conversely, the neurocognitive profiles in the HC group were confined to working memory, learning and IQ, which were diffusely associated with cortical and subcortical brain regions.


These findings suggest that the ARMS and prodromal phase of psychosis are characterized by a convergent mapping from multi-domain neurocognitive measures to a set of prefronto-temporo-limbic and subcortical structures. Furthermore, a neuroanatomical separation between positive and negative brain-cognition correlations may not only point to a biological process determining the clinical risk for disease transition, but also to possible compensatory or dysmaturational neural processes.

Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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