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JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Sep;72(9):882-91. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.0566.

Association of Thalamic Dysconnectivity and Conversion to Psychosis in Youth and Young Adults at Elevated Clinical Risk.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut2National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Center for the Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism, New Haven, Connecticut3Abraham Ribicoff Research Facilities, C.
2
Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
3
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
5
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut3Abraham Ribicoff Research Facilities, Connecticut Mental Health Center, New Haven5Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
6
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut4Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
7
Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles.
8
Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
9
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla.
10
Department of Psychiatry, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, New York.
11
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco.
12
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
13
Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
14
Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts15Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston16Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts Mental Health Center Public Psychiatry Division, Beth Israel.
15
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, Irvine.
16
Departments of Psychology and Radiology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
17
Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Magnetic Resonance Research Center, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Abstract

IMPORTANCE:

Severe neuropsychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia, affect distributed neural computations. One candidate system profoundly altered in chronic schizophrenia involves the thalamocortical networks. It is widely acknowledged that schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that likely affects the brain before onset of clinical symptoms. However, no investigation has tested whether thalamocortical connectivity is altered in individuals at risk for psychosis or whether this pattern is more severe in individuals who later develop full-blown illness.

OBJECTIVES:

To determine whether baseline thalamocortical connectivity differs between individuals at clinical high risk for psychosis and healthy controls, whether this pattern is more severe in those who later convert to full-blown illness, and whether magnitude of thalamocortical dysconnectivity is associated with baseline prodromal symptom severity.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:

In this multicenter, 2-year follow-up, case-control study, we examined 397 participants aged 12-35 years of age (243 individuals at clinical high risk of psychosis, of whom 21 converted to full-blown illness, and 154 healthy controls). The baseline scan dates were January 15, 2010, to April 30, 2012.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:

Whole-brain thalamic functional connectivity maps were generated using individuals' anatomically defined thalamic seeds, measured using resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging.

RESULTS:

Using baseline magnetic resonance images, we identified thalamocortical dysconnectivity in the 243 individuals at clinical high risk for psychosis, which was particularly pronounced in the 21 participants who converted to full-blown illness. The pattern involved widespread hypoconnectivity between the thalamus and prefrontal and cerebellar areas, which was more prominent in those who converted to full-blown illness (t(173) = 3.77, P < .001, Hedge g = 0.88). Conversely, there was marked thalamic hyperconnectivity with sensory motor areas, again most pronounced in those who converted to full-blown illness (t(173) = 2.85, P < .001, Hedge g = 0.66). Both patterns were significantly correlated with concurrent prodromal symptom severity (r = 0.27, P < 3.6 × 10(-8), Spearman ρ = 0.27, P < 4.75 × 10(-5), 2-tailed).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:

Thalamic dysconnectivity, resembling that seen in schizophrenia, was evident in individuals at clinical high risk for psychosis and more prominently in those who later converted to psychosis. Dysconnectivity correlated with symptom severity, supporting the idea that thalamic connectivity may have prognostic implications for risk of conversion to full-blown illness.

PMID:
26267151
PMCID:
PMC4892891
DOI:
10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.0566
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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