Schizophrenia connectivity: correlation between cognitive deficits and reduced thalamo-cortical fibers


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Schizophrenia connectivity: correlation between cognitive deficits and reduced thalamo-cortical fibers
Deppen Patricia, Cammoun L., Chappuis Céline, Bovet Pierre, Cuénod Michel, Thiran J.P., Meuli Reto, Do Kim Quang
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Introduction: Schizophrenia is associated with multiple neuropsychological dysfunctions, such as disturbances of attention, memory, perceptual functioning, concept formation and executive processes. These cognitive functions are reported to depend on the integrity of the prefrontal and thalamo-prefrontal circuits. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that schizophrenia is related to abnormalities in neural circuitry and impaired structural connectivity. Here, we report a preliminary case-control study that showed a correlation between thalamo-frontal connections and several cognitive functions known to be impaired in schizophrenia.
Materials and Methods: We investigated 9 schizophrenic patients (DSM IV criteria, Diagnostic Interview for Genetic Studies) and 9 age and sex matched control subjects. We obtained from each volunteer a DT-MRI dataset (3 T, _ _ 1,000 s/mm2), and a high resolution anatomic T1. The thalamo- frontal tracts are simulated with DTI tractography on these dataset, a method allowing inference of the main neural fiber tracks from Diffusion MRI data. In order to see an eventual correlation with the thalamo-frontal connections, every subject performs a battery of neuropsychological tests including computerized tests of attention (sustained attention, selective attention and reaction time), working memory tests (Plane test and the working memory sub-tests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale), a executive functioning task (Tower of Hanoï) and a test of visual binding abilities.
Results: In a pilot case-control study (patients: n _ 9; controls: n _ 9), we showed that this methodology is appropriate and giving results in the excepted range. Considering the relation of the connectivity density and the neuropsychological data, a correlation between the number of thalamo- frontal fibers and the performance in the Tower of Hanoï was observed in the patients (Pearson correlation, r _ 0.76, p _ 0.05) but not in control subjects. In the most difficult item of the test, the least number of fibers corresponds to the worst performance of the test (fig. 2, number of supplementary movements of the elements necessary to realize the right configuration). It's interesting to note here that in an independent study, we showed that schizophrenia patients (n _ 32) perform in the most difficult item of the Tower of Hanoï (Mann-Whitney, p _ 0.005) significantly worse than control subjects (n _ 29). This has been observed in several others neuropsychological studies.
Discussion: This pilot study of schizophrenia patients shows a correlation between the number of thalam-frontal fibers and the performance in the Tower of Hanoï, which is a planning and goal oriented actions task known to be associated with frontal dysfonction. This observation is consistent with the proposed impaired connectivity in schizophrenia. We aim to pursue the study with a larger sample in order to determine if other neuropsychological tests may be associated with the connectivity density.
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10/03/2008 10:50
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20/08/2019 15:48
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