People with schizophrenia have significantly decreased interhemispheric coordination compared to those without the disorder, according to a new study.
Researchers discovered that interhemispheric connectivity was especially reduced in the occipital lobe, the thalamus and the cerebellum areas of patients with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that significantly affects cognition and often causes chronic problems with behavior and emotion. Along with a breakdown of thought processes, the disorder is also characterized by poor emotional responsiveness, paranoia, auditory hallucinations and delusions.
Prior research has mainly focused on within-hemispheric connectivity, but the current findings, published in Schizophrenia Research, “suggest an important new avenue to explore in order to better understand the nature of the deficits that are so disabling in patients with schizophrenia,” said the authors.
For the study, researchers evaluated 25 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 23 mentally healthy individuals (controls) who underwent resting-state functional magnetic imaging scans of the brain.
Interhemispheric coordination was compared between the two groups through a procedure known as voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity (VMHC).
The results showed that schizophrenia patients had strong VMHC reductions in a large area of the brain, mainly between the left and right lingual gyri, the cuneus, thalamus, and the declive of the cerebellum.
Researchers noted that the differences between the groups remained significant after taking into account medication use and left- or right-handedness.
In schizophrenia patients, there were no areas of increased VMHC compared with controls.
The team also found a significant negative correlation between VMHC in certain brain regions and total scores on the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS) in patients with schizophrenia.
“The primary finding of this work is that the correlation between homologous brain regions was reduced in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder,” said researcher Matthew Hoptman, Ph.D. of the Nathan Kline Institute in New York and his team.
Researchers add that the negative correlation between PANSS scores and VMHC suggests that “this measure might have implications for psychopathology.”
Source: Schizophrenia Research