Academic staff – University of Copenhagen

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Department of Psychology > Academic staff

Marie Bjerregaard Jensen

Marie Bjerregaard Jensen

PhD fellow

Fields of interest

Neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry, cognition, schizophrenia, imaging, neurocognitive development, white matter. 

 

Primary fields of research

- Schizophrenia

- Cognition

- White matter integrity

Current research

Cognitive deficits are a core feature of schizophrenia that are present throughout the illness and have major impact on the clinical outcome of patients. In my Ph.D. project I longitudinally examine the relation between cognitive deficits and structural connectivity of the brain in antipsychotic-naïve first-episode schizophrenia patients trying to throw light on the pathophysiology underlying these cognitive deficits.

There is a close connection between white matter integrity and the development of cognitive functions and schizophrenia patients have been shown to have impaired structural connectivity in brain regions which are heavily involved in cognitive processing.

While some cognitive functions are fully developed in childhood at an early age, other cognitive functions are not fully developed until later in adolescence.  Cognitive functions characterized by a late maturation in healthy subjects have shown an abnormal developmental progression in early onset schizophrenia while early developed cognitive functions have showed a more stable developmental trajectory indicating that later developed cognitive functions will be more disturbed in schizophrenia overall. Since it is widely accepted that white matter volume continues to increase throughout adolescence together with the fact that many schizophrenia patients have their first episode in the late adolescence renders it probable that aberrant neurodevelopment in late adolescence is connected with disease onset in schizophrenia.

Hence there is a need for a clarification of the relationship between aberrant neurodevelopment and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.

On this background it is the purpose of my project to examine whether cognitive functions that develop late in adolescence are more impaired than functions that develop early in childhood in a cohort of antipsychotic-naïve first-episode schizophrenia patients, whether there is a stronger relationship between deficits in late rather than early developed cognitive functions and structural connectivity in this cohort, and whether cognitive deficits and structural connectivity are stabile after 6 months of antipsychotic treatment.

We expect cognitive functions that develop late into adolescence and young adulthood to be more impaired than those that develop early; and that these deficits are related to aberrant structural connectivity.

 

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