VISUAL MEMORY AND PSYCHOTIC SYMPTOMS IN OFFSPRING OF PARENTS WITH SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESS
Severe mental illness refers to functionally impairing disorders such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Available treatments for severe mental illness have limited efficacy. Thus, there is a need to identify youth at risk and provide pre-emptive interventions before illness onset. I sought to examine visual memory and risk of mental illness in youth. First, I explored the relationship between visual memory and family history of mental illness. I found that offspring of parents with mental illness had lower visual memory performance compared to offspring of parents without mental illness. Second, I explored the relationship between visual memory and psychotic symptoms, an early manifestation of risk of mental illness. I found that lower visual memory performance among youth was associated with increased likelihood of experiencing psychotic symptoms. These findings clarify the relationship between risk of mental illness and visual memory and may inform future targeted early interventions.