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Functional anatomy of verbal fluency in people with schizophrenia and those at genetic risk: Focal dysfunction and distributed disconnectivity reappraised

  • Sean A. Spence (a1), Peter F. Liddle (a2), Martin D. Stefan (a3), Jonathan S. E. Hellewell (a4), Tonmoy Sharma (a3), Karl J. Friston (a5), Steven R. Hirsch (a6), Christopher D. Frith (a5), Robin M. Murray (a3), J. F. William Deakin (a4) and Paul M. Grasby (a1)...

Extract

Background

PET studies of verbal fluency in schizophrenia report a failure of ‘deactivation’ of left superior temporal gyrus (STG) in the presence of activation of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which deficit has been attributed to underlying ‘functional disconnectivity’.

Aim

To test whether these findings provide trait-markers for schizophrenia.

Method

We used H2 15O PET to examine verbal fluency in 10 obligate carriers of the predisposition to schizophrenia, 10 stable patients and 10 normal controls.

Results

We found no evidence of a failure of left STG deactivation in carriers or patients. Instead, patients failed to deactivate the precuneus relative to other groups. We found no differences in functional connectivity between left DLPFC and left STG but patients exhibited significant disconnectivity between left DLPFC and anterior cingulate cortex.

Conclusions

Failure of left STG ‘deactivation’ and left fronto-temporal disconnectivity are not consistent findings in schizophrenia; neither are they trait-markers for genetic risk. Prefrontal functional disconnectivity here may characterise the schizophrenic phenotype.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

S. A. Spence, Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Box 171, New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center, 525 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10021, USA. e-mail: sean@hanazono.med.cornell.edu

Footnotes

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See invited commentary pp. 61–63, this issue.

Declaration of interest

No conflict of interest. Financial support detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes

References

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Functional anatomy of verbal fluency in people with schizophrenia and those at genetic risk: Focal dysfunction and distributed disconnectivity reappraised

  • Sean A. Spence (a1), Peter F. Liddle (a2), Martin D. Stefan (a3), Jonathan S. E. Hellewell (a4), Tonmoy Sharma (a3), Karl J. Friston (a5), Steven R. Hirsch (a6), Christopher D. Frith (a5), Robin M. Murray (a3), J. F. William Deakin (a4) and Paul M. Grasby (a1)...
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