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Schizophr Res. 2013 Nov;150(2-3):468-75. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2013.08.009. Epub 2013 Sep 7.

Task-related fronto-striatal functional connectivity during working memory performance in schizophrenia.

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Schizophrenia Research Institute, Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia; School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Randwick, NSW, Australia.


Working memory (WM) deficits and associated brain dysfunction are among the most well replicated candidate endophenotypic processes in schizophrenia. However, previous studies demonstrate inconsistent over- and under-activation of dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices (DLPFC; VLPFC), inferior parietal lobule (IPL) during WM performance, as well as subcortical structures including the striatum, and dysfunctional connectivity among fronto-striatal regions in schizophrenia. However, no previous study has investigated task-related functional connectivity (FC) of DLPFC and striatal regions using a seed-based method; here we employed this method to assess patterns of cortical and subcortical functional connectivity among WM structures during a standard 2-back WM task performed by 28 schizophrenia (SZ) and 28 healthy controls (HC). Initial group comparisons of blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) responses during the WM task revealed significantly greater bilateral activity in the striatum in SZ relative to HC, but there was no significant group difference in WM cortical activity (right DLPFC, VLPFC or IPL). Analyses of FC within the cortico-subcortical WM network in the HC group revealed positive performance-related FC between the right DLPFC and the right caudate, and between the right VLPFC and the right IPL; this pattern was absent in SZ. In contrast, SZ patients showed negative performance-related functional connectivity between the left putamen and the right VLPFC. Direct group comparisons in functional connectivity showed significantly greater performance-related FC between the VLPFC and bilateral putamen, as well as unilaterally between the VLPFC and the right IPL, in HC. Results suggest a critical dysfunction of cortico-striatal connectivity underpinning information retrieval for SZ patients during WM performance.


Functional connectivity; Performance; Schizophrenia; Striatum; Working memory; fMRI

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