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A prodromal phase is characterized by subthreshold or attenuated psychotic symptoms and deterioration in social, academic, and occupational functioning. This period precedes the onset of psychosis by less than a year to several years.

Research in this area and period of the disorder has gained considerable interest as electophysiological and functional magentic resonance imaging has shown that measures of nerucognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia has been observed in first-episode psychotic patients. These measures of neurocognitive dysfunction are assumed to have been present before the onset of psychosis suggesting a genetic vulnerability and/or neurodevelopmental condition associated with the disorder.[Murray, 1992; Waddington, 1993; Weinberger, 1996]. An aim of this research study is to examine whether event-related potential (ERP) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures of three established domians of neruocognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia (auditory processing, attention, and working memeory) are abnormal in prodromal patients relative to healthy comparison subjects. We also plan to examine whether these neurophysiological abnormalities are predictive of conversion to psychosis in prodromal patients during a 24-month follow-up period.

Related articles:
1)  Murray RM, O'Callaghan E, Castle DJ, Lewis SW (1992) A neurodevelopmental approach to the classification of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 18(2), 319-32.
2)  Waddington JL (1993). Schizophrenia: Developmental neuroscience and pathobiology. Lancet, 341(8844), 531-36.
3)  Weinberger DR (1996). On the plausibility of "The neuodevelopmental hypothesis" of schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacology, 14(3 suppl.), S1-S11.