Effective connectivity of the right anterior insula in schizophrenia: The salience network and task-negative to task-positive transition
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Triple network dysfunction theory of schizophrenia postulates that the interaction between the default-mode and the fronto-parietal executive network is disrupted by aberrant salience signals from the right anterior insula (rAI). To date, it is not clear how the proposed resting-state disruption translates to task-processing inefficiency in subjects with schizophrenia. Using a contiguous resting and 2-back task performance fMRI paradigm, we quantified the change in effective connectivity that accompanies rest-to-task state transition in 29 clinically stable patients with schizophrenia and 31 matched healthy controls. We found an aberrant task-evoked increase in the influence of the rAI to both executive (Cohen's d = 1.35, p = 2.8 × 10−6) and default-mode (Cohen's d = 1.22, p = 1.5 × 10−5) network regions occur in patients when compared to controls. In addition, the effective connectivity from middle occipital gyrus (dorsal visual cortex) to insula is also increased in patients as compared with healthy controls. Aberrant insula to executive network influence is pronounced in patients with more severe negative symptom burden. These findings suggest that control signals from rAI are abnormally elevated and directed towards both task-positive and task-negative brain regions, when task-related demands arise in schizophrenia. This aberrant, undiscriminating surge in salience signalling may disrupt contextually appropriate allocation of resources in the neuronal workspace in patients with schizophrenia.