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Correlations between fMRI activation and individual psychotic symptoms in un-medicated subjects at high genetic risk of schizophrenia

Author(s): H. C. Whalley, V. E. Gountouna, J. Hall, A. McIntosh, M. C. Whyte, E. Simonotto, D. E. Job, D. G. Owens, E. C. Johnstone, S. M. Lawrie

BACKGROUND: It has been proposed that different types of psychopathology in schizophrenia may reflect distinguishable pathological processes. In the current study we aimed to address such associations in the absence of confounders such as medication and disease chronicity by examining specific relationships between fMRI activation and individual symptom severity scores in un-medicated subjects at high genetic risk of schizophrenia. METHODS: Associations were examined across two functional imaging paradigms: the Hayling sentence completion task, and an encoding/retrieval task, comprising encoding (at word classification) and retrieval (old word/new word judgement). Symptom severity was assessed using the positive and negative syndrome scale (PANSS). Items examined were hallucinations, delusions, and suspiciousness/persecution. RESULTS: Associations were seen in the anterior middle temporal gyrus in relation to hallucination scores during the sentence completion task, and in the medial temporal lobe in association with suspiciousness/persecution scores in the encoding/retrieval task. Cerebellar activation was associated with delusions and suspiciousness/persecution scores across both tasks with differing patterns of laterality. CONCLUSION: These results support a role for the lateral temporal cortex in hallucinations and medial temporal lobe in positive psychotic symptoms. They also highlight the potential role of the cerebellum in the formation of delusions. That the current results are seen in un-medicated high risk subjects indicates these associations are not specific to the established illness and are not related to medication effects.

Full version: Available here

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ISBN: 1471-244X (Electronic) 1471-244X (Linking)
Publication Year: 2007
Periodical: BMC Psychiatry
Periodical Number:
Volume: 7
Pages: 61
Author Address: Division of Psychiatry, School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. hwhalley@staffmail.ed.ac.uk