Physical activity level and medial temporal health in youth at ultra high-risk for psychosis. Academic Article uri icon


  • A growing body of evidence suggests that moderate to vigorous activity levels can affect quality of life, cognition, and brain structure in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. However, physical activity has not been systematically studied during the period immediately preceding the onset of psychosis. Given reports of exercise-based neurogenesis in schizophrenia, understanding naturalistic physical activity levels in the prodrome may provide valuable information for early intervention efforts. The present study examined 29 ultra high-risk (UHR) and 27 matched controls to determine relationships between physical activity level, brain structure (hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus), and symptoms. Participants were assessed with actigraphy for a 5-day period, MRI, and structured clinical interviews. UHR participants showed a greater percentage of time in sedentary behavior while healthy controls spent more time engaged in light to vigorous activity. There was a strong trend to suggest the UHR group showed less total physical activity. The UHR group exhibited smaller medial temporal volumes when compared with healthy controls. Total level of physical activity in the UHR group was moderately correlated with parahippocampal gyri bilaterally (right: r = .44, left: r = .55) and with occupational functioning (r = -.36; of negative symptom domain), but not positive symptomatology. Results suggest that inactivity is associated with medial temporal lobe health. Future studies are needed to determine if symptoms are driving inactivity, which in turn may be affecting the health of the parahippocampal structure and progression of illness. Although causality cannot be determined from the present design, these findings hold important implications for etiological conceptions and suggest promise for an experimental trial.

published proceedings

  • J Abnorm Psychol

altmetric score

  • 3.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Mittal, V. A., Gupta, T., Orr, J. M., Pelletier-Baldelli, A., Dean, D. J., Lunsford-Avery, J. R., ... Millman, Z. B.

citation count

  • 48

complete list of authors

  • Mittal, Vijay A||Gupta, Tina||Orr, Joseph M||Pelletier-Baldelli, Andrea||Dean, Derek J||Lunsford-Avery, Jessica R||Smith, Ashley K||Robustelli, Briana L||Leopold, Daniel R||Millman, Zachary B

publication date

  • November 2013