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Mol Psychiatry. 2013 Nov;18(11):1199-204. doi: 10.1038/mp.2012.194. Epub 2013 Jan 22.

Relationship of resting brain hyperconnectivity and schizophrenia-like symptoms produced by the NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine in humans.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptor (NMDA-R) antagonists produce schizophrenia-like positive and negative symptoms in healthy human subjects. Preclinical research suggests that NMDA-R antagonists interfere with the function of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons and alter the brain oscillations. These changes have been hypothesized to contribute to psychosis. In this investigation, we evaluated the hypothesis that the NMDA-R antagonist ketamine produces alterations in cortical functional connectivity during rest that are related to symptoms. We administered ketamine to a primary sample of 22 subjects and to an additional, partially overlapping, sample of 12 subjects. Symptoms before and after the experimental session were rated with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). In the primary sample, functional connectivity was measured via functional magnetic resonance imaging almost immediately after infusion began. In the additional sample, this assessment was repeated after 45 min of continuous ketamine infusion. Global, enhanced functional connectivity was observed at both timepoints, and this hyperconnectivity was related to symptoms in a region-specific manner. This study supports the hypothesis that pathological increases in resting brain functional connectivity contribute to the emergence of positive and negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia.

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