Monday, February 10, 2014

Neurocognitive Growth Lag Appears to Accompany Psychotic Symptoms in Children


In a large population study, researchers found that children experiencing psychotic symptoms lagged behind their typically developing peers of the same age in neurocognition. Moreover, this lag was found to be present as early as at 8 years of age.

The senior researcher was Rachel Gur, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. The results appear in JAMA Psychiatry.

The study included 2,321 youth aged 8 to 21 who reported having psychotic symptoms. They were compared with 1,963 typically developing children with no psychiatric disorders and also with 981 children with psychiatric symptoms other than psychosis. As for the latter, they did not show a neurocognitive delay, indicating that the delay was limited to an association with psychosis.

The results have clinical implications, Gur and her team wrote in their paper. "Combined clinical and neurocognitive assessment can facilitate early detection and targeted intervention to delay or ameliorate disease progression." For instance, "Although as a group psychotic-symptom individuals show greater lag in complex cognition than other domains, including executive function, the lag pattern may differ for individuals and can form the basis for designing tailored intervention approaches."

Early identification of psychosis is critical, Gur believes. For her views on this subject, see the Psychiatric News article "Expert Says Early Identification of Psychosis Should Be Priority."

Peripheral blood biomarkers of inflammation and other processes appear to help indicate which individuals with a high risk for psychosis will actually convert to psychosis. For information on this subject, see the Psychiatric News article "Blood Biomarkers Could Aid Prediction of Psychosis Risk."

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