Prefrontal cortex (PFC) dysfunction, particularly in dorsolateral regions of PFC, and specific cognitive deficits that are present prior to the onset of schizophrenia predict risk for later development of schizophrenia and are potential targets for interventions aimed at preventing the onset of this disabling illness.
1. To determine whether a more theoretically-driven assessment of cognitive function can improve sensitivity and specificity in predicting risk for schizophrenia over cognitive tasks used in prior high-risk studies.
2. To determine whether assessing functional brain activity can increase sensitivity and/or specificity in identifying individuals at risk for developing schizophrenia over the use of purely behavioral measures.
We are assessing individuals with a task designed specifically to evaluate the representation and maintenance of context information (an AX version of the Continuous Performance Test; AX-CPT), as well as cognitive tasks used in prior behavioral high risk research (i.e., the degraded CPT and the CPT Identical Pairs). In addition, we are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine cortical activity during performance of our version of the AX-CPT, as well as during performance of several additional tasks tapping cognitive functions also thought to be critically dependent on PFC function (i.e., episodic memory encoding and retrieval, selective attention).