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Penn Medicine: Cognitive development 'growth charts' may help diagnose and treat psychosis-risk kids
Date:2/11/2014

vers were also conducted. The team also administered 12 computerized neurocognitive tests to evaluate each child's brain development across five domains: executive function, testing abstraction and mental flexibility, attention and working memory; episodic memory, testing knowledge of words, faces and shapes; complex cognition, evaluating verbal and nonverbal reasoning and spatial processing; social cognition, looking at emotion identification, intensity differentiation and age estimation; and sensorimotor speed, to understand the workings of their motor and sensorimotor skills.

The results were analyzed to predict chronological age for each child.

They showed that those with the most extreme psychotic symptoms had a lower chronological than predicted age, compared with the typically-developing group and the group with other psychiatric symptoms. They also had a greater developmental lag than the psychosis-limited group, with the lags most pronounced for complex cognition and social cognition and smallest for sensorimotor speed.

"Broken down further, we found that boys on the psychosis spectrum showed an early decline in memory, complex and social understanding, compared with typically developing children, while girls showed minimal lag in memory across all ages groups, with a lag in complex cognition appearing later in development," explains Gur. This seems to follow the differences in how disorders such as schizophrenia manifest themselves across the sexes.

Further, the team used the results to conclude that delays associated with psychotic symptoms appear to be between six and 18 months, and students are almost a year behind already by age eight. After age 16, the lag widens across all domains, which echoes literature showing cognitive deficits in school-age children eventually diagnosed as having psychosis.

"We now have a tool for parents, educators and clinicians to assess children's clinical symptoms, combined w
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Contact: Lee-Ann Landis Donegan
leeann.donegan@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5660
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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