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Childhood Trauma Tied to Brain Changes, Cognition in Schizophrenia

Childhood trauma, orbitofrontal cortex H-shaped sulci volume, and cognitive function thought to be related in patients with schizophrenia

TUESDAY, July 19, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Patients with first-episode schizophrenia appear to have smaller H-shaped sulci in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), according to a study published in the June 22 issue of the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience.

Leilei Wang, M.D., from the Peking University Huilongguan Clinical Medical School in Beijing, and colleagues recruited 63 patients with first-episode schizophrenia and 48 healthy controls and quantified OFC H-shaped sulci volumes with 3.0 T high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging. Cognitive function was assessed using the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB), and childhood trauma experiences were assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ).

The researchers found that compared with healthy controls, patients with first-episode schizophrenia had smaller left OFC H-shaped sulci volumes, more severe childhood trauma experiences, and worse cognitive function. There was a negative correlation seen for CTQ total score and emotional and physical neglect subscores with left OFC H-shaped sulci volume. In patients with first-episode schizophrenia, the total CTQ score and emotional neglect and sexual abuse subscores were negatively correlated with cognitive function. In healthy controls, there was a positive correlation observed for the CTQ total score and physical neglect subscores with cognitive function. There was a mediating role noted for left OFC H-shaped sulci volume in CTQ emotional neglect subscore, CTQ total score, and MCCB composite scores.

“Interventions to address childhood trauma — especially emotional neglect — may be a strategy for alleviating cognitive deficits in patients with schizophrenia,” the authors write.

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