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Am J Psychiatry. 2001 Nov;158(11):1809-17.

Evidence for abnormal cortical functional connectivity during working memory in schizophrenia.

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Unit on Integrative Neuroimaging, Intramural Research Program, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892-1365, USA.



Disturbed neuronal interactions may be involved in schizophrenia because it is without clear regional pathology. Aberrant connectivity is further suggested by theoretical formulations and neurochemical and neuroanatomical data. The authors applied to schizophrenia a recently available functional neuroimaging analytic method that permits characterization of cooperative action on the systems level.


Thirteen medication-free patients and 13 matched healthy comparison subjects performed a working memory (n-back) task and sensorimotor baseline task during positron emission tomography. "Functional connectivity" patterns, reflecting distributed correlated activity that differed most between groups, were extracted by a canonical variates analysis.


More than half the variance was explained by a single pattern showing inferotemporal, (para-)hippocampal, and cerebellar loadings for patients versus dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate activity for comparison subjects. Expression of this pattern perfectly separated all patient scans from comparison scans, thus showing promise as a trait marker. This result was validated prospectively by successfully classifying unrelated scans from the same patients and data from a new cohort. An additional 19% of variance corresponded to the pattern activated by the working memory task. Expression of this pattern was more variable in patients during working memory but not the control condition, suggesting inability to sustain a task-adequate neural network, consistent with the disconnection hypothesis.


Pronounced disruptions of distributed cooperative activity in schizophrenia were found. A pattern showing disturbed frontotemporal interactions showed promise as a trait marker and may be useful for future investigations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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