Longitudinal effects of aripiprazole on enhancing memory and brain connectivity in first-episode psychosis
Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychiatric disorder characterized by positive (hallucinations, delusions), negative (lack of motivation, flat affect), and cognitive (impaired memory and attention) symptoms. Aripiprazole, a dual-action antipsychotic, shows promise in enhancing brain structure and memory in schizophrenia, which may have downstream positive effects on negative symptoms and outcome. However, the mechanisms and timing underlying these potential effects have yet to be determined. This research aims to assess the effects of aripiprazole on brain structure, memory, negative symptoms, and functioning over a 15-month period following a first episode of psychosis. This work could identify both direct (positive, cognitive) and indirect (negative, outcome) effects of aripiprazole and highlight early treatment targets for schizophrenia. The partner organization will benefit from this project as they will be provided with scientific evidence on the potential benefits of their medication, particularly in areas that have traditionally not been targeted by pharmaceuticals. Identifying medications that target multiple symptoms of psychosis will benefit patients directly by promoting more comprehensive treatments and potentially better recovery and would benefit the larger community by reducing the burden on caregivers and the strain on the healthcare system.