Cognitive alterations in groups at risk for psychosis: neutral markers of genetic risk or indicators of social disability?

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ObjectiveTo investigate whether cognitive alterations associated with vulnerability to psychosis, are associated with expression of psychopathology and functional outcome in groups at different levels of risk for psychotic illness.MethodNeurocognition, psychopathology and functional outcome were measured in subjects with variable risk for psychosis: i) 29 patients with psychotic disorder, ii) 46 subjects at familial risk, iii) 41 subjects at psychometric risk and iv) 54 control subjects.ResultsDose-response relationships between cognitive dysfunction and increasing risk for psychosis were found. Cognitive alterations were predicted by negative symptoms in patients and by positive psychotic experiences in the familial risk group. In both at risk groups, cognitive speed was associated with functional outcome.ConclusionSome cognitive impairments serve as neutral endophenotypic marker across the psychosis continuum. However, other cognitive alterations associated with transmission of psychosis may have a direct impact on the pathway from risk to psychopathology and alterations in functioning.

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