Abnormalities in brain white matter (WM) are reported in youth at-risk for psychosis. Yet, the neurodevelopmental time course of these abnormalities remains unclear. Thus, longitudinal diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) was used to investigate WM abnormalities in youth at-risk for psychosis. A subset of individuals from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort (PNC) completed two DWI scans approximately 20 months apart. Youths were identified through structured interview as having subthreshold persistent psychosis risk symptoms (n = 46), and were compared to healthy typically developing participants (TD; n = 98). Analyses were conducted at voxelwise and regional levels. Nonlinear developmental patterns were examined using penalized splines within a generalized additive model. Compared to TD, youth with persistent psychosis risk symptoms had lower whole-brain WM fractional anisotropy (FA) and higher radial diffusivity (RD). Voxelwise analyses revealed clusters of significant WM abnormalities within the temporal and parietal lobes. Lower FA within the cingulum bundle of hippocampus and cerebrospinal tracts were the most robust deficits in individuals with persistent psychosis symptoms. These findings were consistent over two visits. Thus, it appears that WM abnormalities are present early in youth with persistent psychosis risk symptoms, however, there is little evidence to suggest that these features emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood. Future studies should seek to characterize WM abnormalities in younger individuals and follow individuals as subthreshold psychotic symptoms emerge.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience