Effective connectivity within a triple network brain system discriminates schizophrenia spectrum disorders from psychotic bipolar disorder at the single-subject level
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Objective: Schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) and psychotic bipolar disorder share a number of genetic and neurobiological features, despite a divergence in clinical course and outcome trajectories. We studied the diagnostic classification potential that can be achieved on the basis of the structure and connectivity within a triple network system (the default mode, salience and central executive network) in patients with SSD and psychotic bipolar disorder. Methods: Directed static connectivity and its dynamic variance was estimated among 8 nodes of the three large-scale networks. Multivariate autoregressive models of deconvolved resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging time series were obtained from 57 patients (38 with SSD and 19 with bipolar disorder and psychosis). We used 2/3 of the patients for training and validation of the classifier and the remaining 1/3 as an independent hold-out test data for performance estimation. Results: A high level of discrimination between bipolar disorder with psychosis and SSD (combined balanced accuracy = 96.2%; class accuracies 100% for bipolar and 92.3% for SSD) was achieved when effective connectivity and morphometry of the triple network nodes was combined with symptom scores. Patients with SSD were discriminated from patients with bipolar disorder and psychosis as showing higher clinical severity of disorganization and higher variability in the effective connectivity between salience and executive networks. Conclusions: Our results support the view that the study of network-level connectivity patterns can not only clarify the pathophysiology of SSD but also provide a measure of excellent clinical utility to identify discrete diagnostic/prognostic groups among individuals with psychosis.