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Indian J Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;52(4):308-15. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.74304.

A functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging study of neurohemodynamic abnormalities during emotion processing in subjects at high risk for schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, Karnataka, India.



Emotion processing abnormalities are considered among the core deficits in schizophrenia. Subjects at high risk (HR) for schizophrenia also show these deficits. Structural neuroimaging studies examining unaffected relatives at high risk for schizophrenia have demonstrated neuroanatomical abnormalities involving neo-cortical and sub-cortical brain regions related to emotion processing. The brain functional correlates of emotion processing in these HR subjects in the context of ecologically valid, real-life dynamic images using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) has not been examined previously.


To examine the neurohemodynamic abnormalities during emotion processing in unaffected subjects at high risk for schizophrenia in comparison with age-, sex-, handedness- and education-matched healthy controls, using fMRI.


HR subjects for schizophrenia (n=17) and matched healthy controls (n=16) were examined. The emotion processing of fearful facial expression was examined using a culturally appropriate and valid tool for Indian subjects. The fMRI was performed in a 1.5-T scanner during an implicit emotion processing paradigm. The fMRI analyses were performed using the Statistical Parametric Mapping 2 (SPM2) software.


HR subjects had significantly reduced brain activations in left insula, left medial frontal gyrus, left inferior frontal gyrus, right cingulate gyrus, right precentral gyrus and right inferior parietal lobule. Hypothesis-driven region-of-interest analysis revealed hypoactivation of right amygdala in HR subjects.


Study findings suggest that neurohemodynamic abnormalities involving limbic and frontal cortices could be potential indicators for increased vulnerability toward schizophrenia. The clinical utility of these novel findings in predicting the development of psychosis needs to be evaluated.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging; high-risk subjects; schizophrenia

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