Characterizing anterior cingulate activation in chronic schizophrenia: a group and single-subject fMRI study


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Abstract

ObjectiveFunctional abnormalities of the dorsal anterior cingulate (dAC) region have been emphasized in schizophrenia, particularly in relation to cognitive deficits. In this study, we sought to further evaluate the notion of dAC hypofunction in chronic schizophrenia patients using a cognitive task specifically designed to activate this region, enabling both group and single-subject level analyses.MethodTwelve male schizophrenia patients and 14 male healthy subjects were studied with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and the multi-source interference task (MSIT). Patients and healthy subjects were matched for age, gender, education, task performance and gross surface morphology of the AC region. fMRI analyses were conducted at the group and single-subject levels using stringent whole-brain activation thresholds.ResultsMulti-source interference task performance was associated with large and significant activation of the dAC and supplementary motor area (SMA) in patients and healthy subjects. Standard comparison of the two groups indicated that the patients were comparable with healthy subjects in their dAC activation, but had a small cluster of greater SMA activation, while single-subject analyses identified minimal differences in the magnitude or spatial dispersion of dAC activation between the groups.ConclusionThese findings challenge existing notions of impaired dAC activation in chronic schizophrenia and suggest that the functional pathophysiology of this medial-wall region should be considered beyond straightforward models of hypoactivation.

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