There is a growing literature which suggests that neurocognitive deficits may be markers of susceptibility for serious mental illness development. This study assessed neurocognitive functioning in a sample of youth at risk of serious mental illness across different clinical stages as described by McGorry and colleagues and compared them to healthy controls. The sample was 243 male and female youths aged 12-26 and included: asymptomatic participants with psychiatric risk factors (Stage 0; n = 41); youth with early mood or anxiety symptoms (Stage 1a; n = 52); youth with attenuated psychiatric syndromes (Stages 1b; n = 108); and healthy controls (n = 42). The neurocognitive battery included IQ measures and the Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia Consensus Cognitive Battery. Participants in Stage 1b had lower scores than healthy controls on the composite score of neurocognitive performance, across all IQ measures, and in the domains of processing speed, working memory, attention and problem solving. They also had lower scores than subjects in Stage 0 across most IQ measures and in the domains of processing speed and working memory. This study increases what is known about neurocognitive performance associated with different stages of serious mental illness development.
Keywords: Clinical staging; Cognitive assessment; Neuropsychology; Psychiatric syndromes; Transdiagnostic; Youth mental health.
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