Psychotic-like experiences in adolescents (PLEA)

A dimensional approach to psychotic illness suggests that symptoms can exist in the general population without necessarily causing an illness phenotype. The brain abnormalities underlying the presence of these attenuated psychotic symptoms can provide a biomarker of the underlying mechanism, in the absence of illness or medication confounds.

Adolescence is a key period in the aetiology of psychotic illness and psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) may be maximal during this phase of development. We propose to investigate the neurocognitive and neuroimaging profiles of adolescents with PLEs, with the hypothesis that these adolescents will exhibit distinct neuropsychological and neurophysiological profiles compared to those that do not experience psychotic phenomena. The study will employ a prospective design in a sample of 18-19 year old healthy participants taking part in the IMAGEN project. I will investigate the extent to which key neuropsychological factors such as executive functioning, processing speed, attention and social cognition along with functional neuroimaging measures are able to predict the presence or absence of PLEs. This study uses the existing sample of over 1,400 adolescent subjects acquired as part of the EU IMAGEN study, which have already had 2 phases of imaging and neuropsychological assessment, at the ages of 13-14 and 18-20, offering an excellent prospective sample. This sample size will guarantee adequate power to detect multiple small effects, even after correcting for a number of predictors.

Funding: £10,000 award received in 2012 from NIHR Mental Health BRC, up to £5,000 received in 2016 from NIHR CLAHRC South London

Collaborators: Dr Evan Papanastasiou (PhD Student), Prof Sukhi Shergill (1st Supervisor), Prof Gunter Schumann (2nd supervisor), Prof Philip McGuire (3rd supervisor), Dr Elias Mouchlinitis (CSI Lab).