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Neural Habituation in Ultra High-Risk Youth

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Project Summary The overall objective of the current project is to examine the relationship between neural habituation, defined as a decrease in neural response to repeated visual stimuli (especially faces), and social processing deficits in ultra high-risk (UHR) youth, a group at imminent risk for psychosis. Although different aspects of social processing and neurobiology in UHR youth have been examined in relative isolation, the current proposal is notable in linking across multiple modalities from behavioral recognition abilities to perceptual processes to real-world functioning and clinical variables. The first aim of the proposed research is to utilize electroencephalography (EEG) to test the hypothesis that neural habituation deficits are present in UHR youth relative to healthy controls. This is of particular importance due to the association between habituation and learning and memory. Previous work has shown deficits in patients with schizophrenia, but whether these deficits are present prior to the onset of psychosis has yet to be examined. The second main aim will examine whether neural habituation is associated with face identity recognition, facial affect recognition, or general non- social object recognition. To do so, the proposed research will employ behavioral recognition tasks and examine the correlates between recognition abilities and neural habituation as tested in the first aim. Aim 3 will examine the degree to which neural habituation and behavioral recognition abilities (face identity, facial affect, and non-social object) are associated with symptom severity, cognitive measures, and clinical variables at initial assessment. Finally, an Exploratory Aim will examine which of the measures assessed in Aims 1 and 2 change over time and/or predict clinical status and social functioning 12-months later. Studying the mechanisms underlying social deficits in this population will provide a framework for future interventions, such as face-training remediations.
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