Predictors and Mechanisms of Conversion to Psychosis

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Investigator: Rachel Loewy, PhD
Sponsor: Northern California Institute for Research and Education, Inc. (NCIRE)

Location(s): United States

Description

Psychotic disorders typically have their clinical onset in young adulthood, and often derail educational progress and interfere with the acquisition of social skill required for independent adult functioning. There is a broad cost to society that accrues on a personal level in the loss of adult productivity and healthy maturation, and on a socioeconomic level in rising mental health care costs. Elucidating the underlying neurobiological processes in early psychosis will move us closer to targeted preventive interventions that have the potential to halt or ameliorate this neuropathological process and improve the outcome of this vulnerable population.

This is a nine-site, longitudinal study aimed at identifying the brain processes underlying the progression of the clinical syndromes that characterize the psychosis prodrome. The goals are: 1) to determine the pre-onset trajectories of GM decline and disrupted resting-state brain connectivity in CHR individuals who develop psychosis using MRI, and 2) to identify inflammatory and plasticity mechanisms associated with transition to psychosis. Over a two-year period, the study will repeatedly measure these indicators, and at the same time examine changes in physiological indices of brain function, social and cognitive functioning, and symptom progression. The multi-site collaboration will follow large CHR (n= 378) and demographically matched comparison (n= 162) samples that will undergo comprehensive assessments of biological and behavioral changes. This approach will answer important questions about the origins of the brain changes that give rise to psychosis and will provide insights into likely approaches to halting or mitigatig the pathological process and advance our understanding of risk prediction, both critical steps in prevention.