Meta-cognition is associated with cortical thickness in youth at clinical high risk of psychosis

Psychiatry Res. 2015 Sep 30;233(3):418-23. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.07.010. Epub 2015 Jul 15.


Meta-cognition is compromised in people with schizophrenia and people at clinical high risk (CHR) of psychosis. In the current work in a CHR sample, we hypothesized that meta-cognitive functions would correlate with cortical thickness in five brain regions implicated in the pathogenesis of psychosis: inferior and middle frontal cortices, anterior cingulate cortex, superior temporal cortex and insula. Secondly, we hypothesized that similar neural systems would underlie different meta-cognitive functions. Narratives were gathered for 29 youth at CHR of psychosis using a semi-structured interview. Four meta-cognitive functions within the narratives were measured with the Meta-cognition Assessment Scale and regressed on cortical thickness from our a priori regions of interest using FreeSurfer. Mapping statistics from our a priori regions of interest revealed that meta-cognition functions were associated with cortical thickness in inferior and middle frontal gyri, superior temporal cortex and insula. The distribution of cortical thickness was partially similar across the four MAS items. Results confirm our hypothesis that cortical thickness is significantly associated with meta-cognition in brain regions that consistently show gray matter reductions across the schizophrenia spectrum. Evidence for thickness covariation in a variety of regions suggests partial dependence in the neural architecture underlying various meta-cognitive functions in CHR.

Keywords: Clinical high risk; Cortical thickness; Meta-cognition; Prefrontal cortex; Schizophrenia; Self-reflectiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Metacognition* / physiology
  • Organ Size
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology