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Mentalizing in male schizophrenia patients is compromised by virtue of dysfunctional connectivity between task-positive and task-negative networks

, : Mentalizing in male schizophrenia patients is compromised by virtue of dysfunctional connectivity between task-positive and task-negative networks. Schizophrenia Research 140(1-3): 51-58

Schizophrenia can be conceptualized as a disorder of functional connectivity within the fronto-temporal (FT) and/or default-mode (DM) networks. Recent evidence suggests that dysfunctional integration between these large neural networks may also contribute to the illness, and that the ability to mentalize or have a Theory of Mind (ToM) is discernibly impaired in patients with schizophrenia. Hence in this study, we examined whether impaired functional network connectivity (FNC) contributes to a compromise in the ability to mentalize in patients with schizophrenia. Functional magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired from 2 male schizophrenia patients and 19 matched healthy controls while performing a well-known ToM task. The study revealed that relative to non-ToM the engagement of ToM produced reduced neural activity in the lateral FT and insula networks in patients, as compared to healthy subjects. The findings also indicated that in comparison to healthy subjects the DM and medial FT networks are less suppressed in patients irrespective of the task (ToM/non-ToM). Further, FNC analyses showed that the degree of functional connectivity between task-positive (lateral FT and insula) and task-negative (medial FT, posterior DM) networks was significantly reduced in patients as compared to controls. Of note, a significant correlation between the functional connectivity strength of the lateral FT network with the medial FT and the degree to which this is modulated by the ToM task, suggests that mentalizing deficits in male schizophrenia patients may stem from impaired communication between neural networks that comprehend the mental states of self (medial FT) and others (lateral FT).


PMID: 22795367

DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.06.023

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