Functional Brain ‘Fingerprint’ Identified in Schizophrenia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tobias Kaufmann UiO Institute of Clinical Medicine

Dr. Kaufmann

Tobias Kaufmann PhD
Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT), KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital & Institute of Clinical Medicine
University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Over the past years, a lot of work has pointed toward impaired brain networks in schizophrenia. With this work we assessed brain network stability across different loads of a cognitive task using functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain.

Based on our earlier work on adolescents with pre-clinical signs of mental illness who showed decreased stability of networks across different tasks and conditions, we hypothesized that brain networks in adults with schizophrenia show similar properties of decreased stability. Our results confirmed this hypothesis. Stability was reduced in several large-scale brain networks across the sampled age range from early adulthood to the sixties. Further, network stability was associated with polygenic risk for schizophrenia as well as cognitive task performance.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Combined with our earlier results from a neurodevelopmental sample, the patterns we observed in network stability may support theories of a delayed development in children with first signs of mental illness, and apparent aging in adults with schizophrenia. Furthermore, the link between polygenic risk and network stability is particularly intriguing, as it may underline the functional relevance of network stability as a system-level property of large-scale brain networks. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Whereas our results provide first evidence that the stability of brain networks is altered in schizophrenia, future research needs to investigate the sources underlying these findings. We speculate that at the large-scale brain network level we are studying here, a stable network relates to resource-efficient task switching in that moving from one cognitive task to another requires minimal retuning of the network. Systematic investigation at different scales are, however, needed to confirm this hypothesis in future research.

Further reading

Kaufmann, T., Alnæs, D., Doan, N.T., Brandt, C.L.,Andreassen, O.A., Westlye, L.T. (2017). Delayed stabilization and individualization in connectome development are related to psychiatric disorders. Nature Neuroscience https://www.nature.com/articles/nn.4511

Kaufmann, T., Alnæs, D., Brandt, C.L., Doan, N.T., Kauppi, K., Bettella, F., Lagerberg, T.V., Berg, A.O., Djurovic, S., Agartz, I., Melle, I.S., Ueland, T., Andreassen, O.A., Westlye, L.T. (2016). Task modulations and clinical manifestations in the brain functional connectome in 1615 fMRI datasets. NeuroImage https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811916306917 

 

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