Continuum autisme-schizophrénie : apport de l’étude de la cognition sociale et de marqueurs phénotypiques développementaux

Abstract : Autism and schizophrenia are both neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders. Research on early-onset schizophrenia, commonly associated to autism spectrum disorders (ASD), suggested a possible developmental continuum between both of these disorders. Clinical and epidemiological evidence, and research from molecular genetics or brain imaging, come to support this hypothesis. In this context, social cognition is a matter of special interest. Impairments are reported both in the two disorders, but with inconsistent results, revealing common features as well as differences. Otherwise, links between social cognition impairments and neurodevelopmental burden have been until now poorly explored. Through the contribution of our three studies, we confirmed the importance of social cognition impairment in autism and schizophrenia. The MASC test (Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition), an original tool which was by our findings validated in a French version, revealed higher overall impairment of mentalizing capabilities in ASD than in schizophrenia. Animated Shapes (non verbal test of attribution of intentions) revealed qualitative differences: whereas hypomentalizing is common both to ASD and schizophrenia, overmentalizing seemed to be more important in schizophrenia. Furthermore, along a continuum between autism and schizophrenia, social cognition impairment was linked to thought and language disorganization, and to neurological soft signs (a marker for neurodevelopmental load). In addition, in subjects with schizophrenia, overmentalizing was correlated to the precocity of onset of the disease. Altogether, our results highlight the need to screen developmental feature in adulthood. In that way, we presented preliminary results in order to validate a developmental disorders screening self-rated questionnaire. As a conclusion, our results bring evidence in favour of a hypothesis of a continuum between autism and schizophrenia, showing a social cognition impairment in both disorders, correlated to the neurodevelopmental load existing in both of them in a transnosographic way. We contributed to emphasize the sub-group of subjects with schizophrenia with early-onset of disease, characterized by a tendency to overmentalizing and presenting a marked disorganization. Our work provides avenue to further studies, integrating neuroimaging and genetic data, that will help to advance in a deeper comprehension of the pathophysiology of autism and schizophrenia. Furthermore, we used and validated in this work promising tools to improve finely psychopathological evaluation and differential diagnosis in adults suffering from autism and from schizophrenia.
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Gilles Martinez. Continuum autisme-schizophrénie : apport de l’étude de la cognition sociale et de marqueurs phénotypiques développementaux. Psychiatrie et santé mentale. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017USPCB065⟩. ⟨tel-02129590⟩

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