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Schizophr Res. 2013 Jun;147(1):75-80. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2013.02.020. Epub 2013 Apr 6.

Persistence, diagnostic specificity and genetic liability for context-processing deficits in schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Thomas Detre Hall of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Context-processing deficits have been shown in schizophrenia during first-episode, medication-naïve status, that persist after short-term antipsychotic treatment and also in first-degree relatives of individuals with schizophrenia. To confirm longer term persistence of deficits, we examined schizophrenia patients (n=63) during first-episode, medication-naïve status through to one-year follow-up, compared to healthy control (n=83) and non-schizophrenia psychosis comparison (n=47) groups, as well as unaffected first-degree relatives of individuals with schizophrenia (n=31). Context-processing ability was assessed by performance on the AX-CPT (Continuous Performance Test) at baseline, 8 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year (relatives only at baseline). Reaction time, error rates and signal detection indices (d'-context) of context processing were analyzed. Linear discriminant analyses (LDA) on early timepoints (baseline, 8 weeks) were conducted to predict confirmatory diagnosis (schizophrenia vs. psychosis control) at 6 months. Schizophrenia patients showed evidence of impaired context-processing relative to both the healthy and psychosis comparator groups at baseline and continued through to 1 year. While context-processing impairments persisted in schizophrenia patients through one year, the impairments in psychosis controls, which were more modest at baseline, remitted at follow-up. First-degree relatives showed deficits that were intermediate between the schizophrenia and healthy control groups. LDA showed 67% classification rates for distinguishing schizophrenia from non-schizophrenia psychosis. The persistence, diagnostic specificity and association with genetic liability give support for context processing impairments serving as a cognitive endophenotype for schizophrenia and evaluation of context processing could contribute to diagnostic assessments.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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