Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Palaniyappan, Lena


Network level dysconnectivity has been studied in positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Conceptual disorganization (CD) is a symptom which predicts impaired real-world functioning. Systematic reviews have reported aberrant connectivity in formal thought disorder, a construct related to CD. However, no studies have investigated whole-brain functional correlates of CD in psychosis. We sought to investigate brain regions explaining the severity of CD in patients with first-episode psychosis (FEPs) compared with healthy controls (HCs). We computed whole-brain binarized degree centrality maps of 31 FEPs, 25 HCs and characterized the patterns of network connectivity in the two groups. In FEPs, we related these findings to the severity of CD. We also studied the effect of positive and negative symptoms on altered network connectivity. Compared to HCs, the FEPs showed reduced hubness of a cluster located in the right superior temporal gyrus (rSTG). In patients exhibiting high CD, increased hubness of a medial superior parietal (mSPL) cluster was observed, compared to patients exhibiting low CD. These two regions were strongly correlated with CD scores but not with other symptom scores. Our observations are congruent with previous findings of reduced but not increased hubness. We observed increased hubness of mSPL suggesting that a cortical reorganization occurs in brain networks to provide alternate routes for information transfer. These findings provide insight into the underlying neural processes mediating the presentation of symptoms in untreated FEP. A longitudinal tracking of the symptom course will be useful to assess the mechanisms underlying these compensatory changes.