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Schizophrenia Bulletin Open, 2020

DOI: 10.1093/schizbullopen/sgaa049



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Development of executive functions as reflected in daily life behaviors in young adults at ultra-high risk for psychosis: associations with symptoms and functioning

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Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher

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Abstract There is a paucity of evidence on executive functions (EF) as reflected in daily life behaviors in individuals at ultra-high risk (UHR) for psychosis. This prospective follow-up study investigated the 1-year development in EF in UHR compared to healthy controls (HC) and how this change may relate to change in severity of clinical symptoms, social communication and functioning. UHR (N=132) and HC (N=66) were assessed with the Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function–Adult version (BRIEF-A) self and informant report at baseline and 12-months follow-up comprising the Behavioral Regulation Index (BRI) and the Metacognition Index (MI). Additionally, data on depressive-, negative-, and attenuated psychotic symptoms and everyday social functioning was collected. The study found UHR to display large baseline impairments in EF in real life on both self-and informant reports. UHR and HC showed a significantly different development of EF over time with UHR displaying greater improvements in EF compared to HC. Change in clinical symptoms did not relate to improvements in EF, except for depressive symptoms negatively associating with the development of the MI. Improvements on the BRI and MI were significantly associated with improvements in social functioning. Findings suggest the potential of UHR individuals displaying a larger ongoing maturational development of daily life EF than HC that seems predominantly independent of development of clinical symptoms. If replicated, this supports a maturational trajectory of daily life EF in UHR that approaches, but do not reach, the level of HC and may indicate a window of opportunity for targeted remediation approaches.