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Schizo-affective disorder has not been studied to any significant extent using functional imaging. The aim of this study was to examine patterns of brain activation and deactivation in patients meeting strict diagnostic criteria for the disorder.
Thirty-two patients meeting Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) for schizo-affective disorder (16 schizomanic and 16 schizodepressive) and 32 matched healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during performance of the n-back task. Linear models were used to obtain maps of activations and deactivations in the groups.
Controls showed activation in a network of frontal and other areas and also deactivation in the medial frontal cortex, the precuneus and the parietal cortex. Schizo-affective patients activated significantly less in prefrontal, parietal and temporal regions than the controls, and also showed failure of deactivation in the medial frontal cortex. When task performance was controlled for, the reduced activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the failure of deactivation of the medial frontal cortex remained significant.
Schizo-affective disorder shows a similar pattern of reduced frontal activation to schizophrenia. The disorder is also characterized by failure of deactivation suggestive of default mode network dysfunction.
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