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An understanding of the neurobiological correlates of vulnerability to psychosis is fundamental to research on schizophrenia. We systematically reviewed data from studies published from 1992 to 2006 on the neurocognitive correlates (as measured by fMRI) of increased vulnerability to psychosis. We also conducted a meta-analysis of abnormalities of activation in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in high-risk and first episode subjects, and reviewed neuroimaging studies of high-risk subjects that used PET, SPECT and MRS. Twenty-four original fMRI papers were identified, most of which involved tasks that engaged the PFC. In fMRI studies, vulnerability to psychosis was associated with medium to large effect sizes when prefrontal activation was contrasted with that in controls. Relatives of patients affected with psychosis, the co-twins of patients and subjects with an At Risk Mental State (ARMS) appear to share similar neurocognitive abnormalities. Furthermore, these are qualitatively similar but less severe than those observed in the first episode of illness. These abnormalities have mainly been described in the prefrontal and anterior cingulated cortex, the basal ganglia, hippocampus and cerebellum.

Original publication




Journal article


Neurosci Biobehav Rev

Publication Date





465 - 484


Adolescent, Adult, Brain Mapping, Cognition, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Prefrontal Cortex, Psychotic Disorders, Risk Assessment, Schizophrenia, Temporal Lobe, Twin Studies as Topic