Identifying neural underpinnings of schizophrenia-specific disruptions in cognition using magnetic resonance imaging, individual differences, and genetics
Rodrigue, Amanda Lynn
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People with schizophrenia exhibit cognitive deficits that have wide-reaching effects on daily functioning and prognosis. Cognitive deficits are attributed to deviations in brain structure and function, including those related to brain morphometry, integrity of cognition-related networks, and activation of these networks during cognitive tasks. There are, however, questions of how specific cognitive deficits and associated brain deviations are to people with schizophrenia when compared to other psychiatric disorders with psychosis and to healthy people who show similar cognitive deficits. The series of studies proposed uses multiple psychosis groups and two healthy comparison groups, one group with high cognitive control and one group with low cognitive control, to differentiate which cognitive and brain deviations are specific to schizophrenia, rather than a general feature of psychosis or due to generalized deficits in cognition. Each study will address a different aspect of the brain that underlie cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. This will include multiple measures of brain structure, connectivity of three brain networks dominant in cognitive performance, and activation during antisaccades, a task related to performance on other cognitive tasks. As a follow-up analysis for the second and third study, genetic effects on brain measures will also be performed. Genetics may provide a mechanistic explanation of why groups may be the same or different in spite of a psychiatric diagnosis. Using multi-modal data characterizing brain structure and function along with genetics and more appropriate comparison groups may help identify cognitive control deficits that are specific to schizophrenia which would aid in better targets for treatment and remediation.