Liina Haring will defend her PhD on May 19th

Liina Haring will defend her PhD on May 19th at 14.00 in in auditorium A. Linkberg (Puusepa 8) „Cognitive functioning after first psychotic episode“   Supervisors:
René Mõttus (PhD, The University of Edinburghi Ülikool, Department of Psycholgy; University of Tartu, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Psychology)
Prof Aleksandr Žarkovski (MD, PhD, University of Tartu, Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, Department of Pharmacology)
Prof Eduard Maron (MD, PhD, University of Tartu, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Psychiatry; The North Estonia Medical Centre) Oponent:
Annamari Tuulio-Henriksson, PhD, Research Professor, The Social Insurance Institution, Helsinki, Finland. Cognitive functioning after first psychotic episode
Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disorder that has a strong biological basis and is characterized by disturbances in perception, thought, emotion, and behavior. In the field of psychiatric research, there is growing interest in the early stage of the chronic psychotic disorder and mounting evidence suggests that compromised cognitive function is a core feature of the illness.
Aims of the research were to characterize cognitive functioning of the first-episode psychosis/schizophrenia patients, and to study its relationships with subjectively perceived cognitive functioning and brain morphological parameters.
A comprehensive computer-based neuropsychological battery was used. The battery included tests designed to assess subjects’ pattern and spatial recognition memory capacity, learning and rapid visual information processing abilities, shifting and flexibility of attention, spatial planning and executive functioning, and to evaluate participants’ ability to retain spatial information and manipulate these remembered items in their working memory, and to use strategies. Objective and subjective mental functioning data were collected at baseline and follow-up measures were completed approximately six months later, in the patients’ group. We used magnet resonance imaging technique to evaluate brain morphological (i.e., cortical thickness and cortical area) parameters.
The results indicated that patients exhibited widespread cognitive impairments, and that the structure of underlying cognitive abilities as measured by a selection of neuropsychological tests is not the same for healthy individuals and patients with first-episode psychosis. The findings suggested that there is variability in the type, direction, and size of the changes of different cognitive functions over time among patients with first psychotic episode. Objectively measured and sujectively perceived cognitive functioning are two distinct and probably complementary constructs, and should be measured separately in order to attain a more comprehensive assessment of each patient’s day-to-day functioning. Furthermore, we demonstrated that morphological changes in frontal, temporal, parietal, and cingulate cortices may be related to the altered cognitive functioning among patients and that the brain structure-function relationships may be dissimilar for patients with first psychotic episode and healthy subjects. Our findings support continued efforts to elucidate cognitive dysfunction as a characteristic feature of the early stage of chronic psychotic disorder.