Date of Award

9-22-2010

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Robert Rohrbaugh

Abstract

Abnormal connectivity of the intrinsic anticorrelated networks, the task-negative network (TNN) and task-positive network (TPN), is implicated in schizophrenia. Comparisons between schizophrenic patients and their unaffected siblings offer an opportunity to further understand illness susceptibility and pathophysiology. We hypothesized that schizophrenic patients would demonstrate hyperconnectivity in the intrinsic networks and that similar, but less pronounced, hyperconnectivity would be evident in the networks of the unaffected siblings. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance images were obtained from schizophrenic patients (n=25), their unaffected siblings (n=25), and healthy controls (n=25). The posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus (PCC/PCu) and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) were used as seed regions to identify the TNN and TPN. Interregional connectivity strengths were analyzed using overlapped intrinsic networks composed of regions common to the intrinsic networks of the three subject groups. In the TNN, schizophrenic patients alone demonstrated hyperconnectivity between the PCC/PCu and left inferior temporal gyrus and between the ventral medial prefrontal cortex and the right lateral parietal cortex. Both schizophrenic patients and their unaffected siblings showed increased connectivity in the TNN between the bilateral inferior temporal gyri. In the TPN, schizophrenic patients showed hyperconnectivity between the left DLPFC and right inferior frontal gyrus relative to unaffected siblings, though this trend only approached statistical significance in comparison to healthy controls. Resting-state hyperconnectivity of the intrinsic networks may underlie the pathophysiology of schizophrenia by disrupting network coordination. Similar, though milder, hyperconnectivity in unaffected siblings of schizophrenic patients may contribute to their cognitive deficits and increased risk to develop schizophrenia.

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