Real-time cognitive performance and positive symptom expression in schizophrenia.
Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2021-07-21; :
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Deficits in cognitive functions are frequent in schizophrenia and are often conceptualized as stable characteristics of this disorder. However, cognitive capacities may fluctuate over the course of a day and it is unknown if such variation may be linked to the dynamic expression of psychotic symptoms. This investigation used Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to provide mobile tests of cognitive functions and positive symptoms in real time. Thirty-three individuals with schizophrenia completed five EMA assessments per day for a one-week period that included real-time assessments of cognitive performance and psychotic symptoms. A subsample of patients and 31 healthy controls also completed a functional MRI examination. Relative to each individual’s average score, moments of worsened cognitive performance on the mobile tests were associated with an increased probability of positive symptom occurrence over subsequent hours of the day (coef = 0.06, p < 0.05), adjusting for the presence of psychotic symptoms at the moment of mobile test administration. These prospective associations varied as a function of graph theory indices in MRI analyses. These findings demonstrate that cognitive performance is prospectively linked to psychotic symptom expression in daily life, and that underlying brain markers may be observed in the Executive Control Network. While the potential causal nature of this association remains to be investigated, our results offer promising prospects for a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of symptom expression in schizophrenia.