Le dimorphisme sexuel est-il présent dans les fonctions cérébrales sous-tendant les cognitions sociales et les habiletés visuo-spatiale chez les personnes souffrant de psychose?

Chercheurs-boursiers- Junior 2 | Concours 2012-2013

Adrianna Mendrek

Centre recherche Fernand-Seguin de l'Hôpital Louis-H. Lafontaine


Domaine : Neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Schizophrenia is one of the most complex and devastating disorders of the central nervous system with a prevalence of about 1% in the general population, and with important differences between men and women in the age at first psychotic episode and response to treatment. Although these differences have been well documented, we still know very little about their underlying mechanisms. Thus, together with other members of my laboratory, we have established a research program devoted to examining neurofunctional, hormonal, and psychosocial factors implicated in sex/gender differences in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. It is an ambitious program, requiring a minimum of 10-12 additional years of research, but the current proposal concerns the next four years. Thus, during the next phase of the program I plan to evaluate sex/gender differences in brain function (using functional MRI) associated with visuo-spatial processing and in social cognition in the first-psychotic episode patients (FEP), in the first-degree relatives (FDR) of schizophrenia patients, and in control participants. We will also determine the relative contributions of biological factors (sex steroid hormones) and psychosocial factors (gender role socialization) to potential neurocognitive effects. Based on our previous findings and existing literature, we expect to observe an atypical sexual dimorphism in cognitive profiles and associated brain activations in the FEP and FDR. Specifically, relative to male FEP (and FDR), female FEP (and FDR) will be superior on visuo-spatial abilities, but inferior on social cognition measures (pattern opposite to what has been observed in the general population). These specific cognitive profiles in FEP (and FDR) males and females will be reflected in fMRI results. Understanding sex and gender differences in schizophrenia may shed a light on differential etiology and promote the development of better treatments for women and men with psychotic disorders.