A large body of literature reported widespread structural and functional abnormalities throughout the brain in schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SZ). Corresponding with the typical symptomatology in SZ where sensory dysfunctions contribute to the core social and cognitive impairment, converging evidence suggests a disturbed interplay between higher-order (cognitive) and lower-order (sensory) regions. This talk will discuss the results of several recent studies, investigating brain connectivity in SZ using functional magnetic resonance imaging data from large samples. Within-network sensorimotor as well as sensorimotor-thalamic aberrations in SZ robustly appear among the core findings across studies, both during performance of cognitive tasks and during rest. We utilized machine learning to distinguish SZ from healthy controls based on connectivity profiles. When classifying on sensorimotor connections alone, not only can we reach accuracies largely above chance but also, these accuracies are as good as when incorporating whole brain connectivity in the classification. Whereas the overall accuracy levels in distinguishing SZ from controls are not useful in a clinical context, these results underline the robustness of the sensorimotor findings on the individual subject level. Targeting the sensory and perceptual domains may thus be key for future research to get a better understanding of the heterogeneity of clinical manifestations in severe mental disorders and to map clinical symptoms to imaging phenotypes.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.