PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Drugs, schizotypy and cognition: Cognitive attenuations seem more consistently associated with substance use than schizotypal symptoms
Université de Lausanne, Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques
Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques (SSP) Université de Lausanne UNIL - Dorigny Anthropole - bureau 2125 CH-1015 Lausanne SUISSE
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Psychosis is a debilitating disease, causing harm to the individual and society. Since early detection of the disease is associated with a more benign course, factors are warranted that enable the early detection of psychosis. In the present thesis we will be focusing on two potential risk factors, namely schizotypy and drug use. The schizotypy concept, originally developed by Meehl (1962), states that schizophrenia symptoms exist on a spectrum, with symptoms ranging from the most severe in patients with schizophrenia to the least affected individual in the general population. Along the schizophrenia spectrum cognitive impairments are commonly found, for instance reduced hemispheric asymmetry or frontal lobe functions. The second risk factor (drug use), affects similar cognitive functions as those attenuated along the schizophrenia spectrum, and drug use is elevated in schizophrenia and people scoring high on schizotypy. Therefore, we set out to investigate whether cognitive attenuations formerly allocated to schizotypal symptoms could have been influenced by elevated substance use in this population. To test this idea, we assessed various drugs (nicotine, cannabis, mephedrone, general substance dependence) and schizotypy symptoms (O-LIFE), and measured either hemispheric asymmetry of function (left hemisphere dominance for language, and right hemisphere dominance for facial processing) or functions largely relying on the frontal lobes (such as cognitive flexibility, working memory, verbal short-term memory, verbal learning and verbal fluency). Results of all studies suggest that it is mostly drugs, and not schizotypy in general that predict cognitive functioning. Therefore, cognitive attenuations subscribed to schizotypy dimensions are likely to have been affected by enhanced drug use. Future studies should extend the list of potential risk factors (e.g. depression and IQ) to acquire a comprehensive overview of the most reliable predictors of disadvantageous cognitive profiles.
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