Schizophrenia is considered a neurodevelopmental disorder, but whether the adolescent period, proximal to onset, is associated with aberrant development in individuals at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis is incompletely understood. While abnormal gray and white matter development has been observed, alterations in functional neuroimaging (fMRI parameters during adolescence as related to conversion to psychosis have not yet been investigated. Twenty CHR individuals and 19 typically developing controls (TDC), (ages 14-21), were recruited from the Center for Assessment and Prevention of Proclromal States (CAPPS) at UCLA Participants performed a Sternberg-style verbal working memory (WMem) task during fMRI and data were analyzed using a cross-sectional design to test the hypothesis that there is a deviant developmental trajectory in WMem associated neural circuitry in those at risk for psychosis. Eight of the CHR adolescents converted to psychosis within 2 years of initial assessment. A voxel-wise regression examining the relationship between age and activation revealed a significant group-by-age interaction. TDC showed a negative association between age and functional activation in the WMem circuitry while CHR adolescents showed a positive association. Moreover, CHR patients who later converted to overt psychosis showed a distinct pattern of abnormal age associated activation in the frontal cortex relative to controls, while non converters showed a more diffuse posterior pattern. Finding that age related variation in baseline patterns of neural activity differentiate individuals who subsequently convert to psychosis from healthy subjects suggests that these differences are likely to be clinically relevant. (C). 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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