Different duration of at-risk mental state associated with neurofunctional abnormalities. A multimodal imaging study

Hum Brain Mapp. 2012 Oct;33(10):2281-94. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21360. Epub 2011 Sep 16.


Objectives: Neurofunctional alterations are correlates of vulnerability to psychosis, as well as of the disorder itself. How these abnormalities relate to different probabilities for later transition to psychosis is unclear. We investigated vulnerability- versus disease-related versus resilience biomarkers of psychosis during working memory (WM) processing in individuals with an at-risk mental state (ARMS).

Experimental design: Patients with "first-episode psychosis" (FEP, n = 21), short-term ARMS (ARMS-ST, n = 17), long-term ARMS (ARMS-LT, n = 16), and healthy controls (HC, n = 20) were investigated with an n-back WM task. We examined functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) data in conjunction using biological parametric mapping (BPM) toolbox.

Principal observations: There were no differences in accuracy, but the FEP and the ARMS-ST group had longer reaction times compared with the HC and the ARMS-LT group. With the 2-back > 0-back contrast, we found reduced functional activation in ARMS-ST and FEP compared with the HC group in parietal and middle frontal regions. Relative to ARMS-LT individuals, FEP patients showed decreased activation in the bilateral inferior frontal gyrus and insula, and in the left prefrontal cortex. Compared with the ARMS-LT, the ARMS-ST subjects showed reduced activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus and insula. Reduced insular and prefrontal activation was associated with gray matter volume reduction in the same area in the ARMS-LT group.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that vulnerability to psychosis was associated with neurofunctional alterations in fronto-temporo-parietal networks in a WM task. Neurofunctional differences within the ARMS were related to different duration of the prodromal state and resilience factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors