First-episode psychosis is characterized by failure of deactivation but not by hypo- or hyperfrontality

Benito Menni CASM, Barcelona, Spain.
Psychological Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.94). 07/2011; 42(1):73-84. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291711001073
Source: PubMed


It is not known whether first-episode psychosis is characterized by the same prefrontal cortex functional imaging abnormalities as chronic schizophrenia.
Thirty patients with a first episode of non-affective functional psychosis and 28 healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during performance of the n-back working memory task. Voxel-based analyses of brain activations and deactivations were carried out and compared between groups. The connectivity of regions of significant difference between the patients and controls was also examined.
The first-episode patients did not show significant prefrontal hypo- or hyperactivation compared to controls. However, they showed failure of deactivation in the medial frontal cortex. This area showed high levels of connectivity with the posterior cingulate gyrus/precuneus and parts of the parietal cortex bilaterally. Failure of deactivation was significantly greater in first-episode patients who had or went on to acquire a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia than in those who did not, and in those who met RDC criteria for schizophrenia compared to those who did not.
First-episode psychosis is not characterized by hypo- or hyperfrontality but instead by a failure of deactivation in the medial frontal cortex. The location and connectivity of this area suggest that it is part of the default mode network. The failure of deactivation seems to be particularly marked in first-episode patients who have, or progress to, schizophrenia.

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    • "These DMN regions usually show marked deactivation during the task phase of these paradigms [32]. DMN abnormalities such as abnormal functional connectivity or failure to deactivate the DMN during task performance have previously been described in FEP patients [17], and in UHR and FHR populations [20] [25] [35]. Adaptive task performance requires the ability to redirect resources away from internal thoughts and feelings towards external stimuli. "
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    ABSTRACT: Impaired working memory is a core feature of schizophrenia and is linked with altered engagement the lateral prefrontal cortex. Although altered PFC activation has been reported in people with increased risk of psychosis, at present it is not clear if this neurofunctional alteration differs between familial and clinical risk states and/or increases in line with the level of psychosis risk. We addressed this issue by using functional MRI and a working memory paradigm to study familial and clinical high-risk groups. We recruited 17 subjects at ultra-high-risk (UHR) for psychosis, 10 non-affected siblings of patients with schizophrenia (familial high risk [FHR]) and 15 healthy controls. Subjects were scanned while performing the N-back working memory task. There was a relationship between the level of task-related deactivation in the medial PFC and precuneus and the level of psychosis risk, with deactivation weakest in the UHR group, greatest in healthy controls, and at an intermediate level in the FHR group. In the high-risk groups, activation in the precuneus was associated with the level of negative symptoms. These data suggest that increased vulnerability to psychosis is associated with a failure to deactivate in the medial PFC and precuneus during a working memory task, and appears to be most evident in subjects at clinical, as opposed to familial high risk. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · European Psychiatry
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    • "Increased deactivation observed in our control group and in our stress-recovered participants (comparing with stress). Additionally, abnormal patterns of RSNs deactivation have been associated with several neuropsychiatric diseases (Pomarol-Clotet et al., 2008; Guerrero-Pedraza et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic stress has been widely reported to have deleterious impact in multiple biological systems. Specifically, structural and functional remodelling of several brain regions following prolonged stress exposure have been described; importantly, some of these changes are eventually reversible. Recently, we showed the impact of stress on resting state networks (RSNs), but nothing is known about the plasticity of RSNs after recovery from stress. Herein, we examined the “plasticity” of RSNs, both at functional and structural levels, by comparing the same individuals before and after recovery from the exposure to chronic stress; results were also contrasted with a control group. Here we show that the stressed individuals after recovery displayed a decreased resting functional connectivity in the default mode network (DMN), ventral attention network (VAN) and sensorimotor network (SMN) when compared to themselves immediately after stress; however, this functional plastic recovery was only partial as when compared with the control group, as there were still areas of increased connectivity in dorsal attention network (DAN), SMN and primary visual network (VN) in participants recovered from stress. Data also shows that participants after recovery from stress displayed increased deactivations in DMN, SMN and auditory network (AN), to levels similar to those of controls, showing a normalization of the deactivation pattern in RSNs after recovery from stress. In contrast, structural changes (volumetry) of the brain areas involving these networks are absent after the recovery period. These results reveal plastic phenomena in specific RSNs and a functional remodeling of the activation-deactivation pattern following recovery from chronic-stress, which is not accompanied by significant structural plasticity.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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    • "This is consistent with previous studies showing that failure of RSNs deactivation was already evidenced in several neuropsychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, first-episode psychosis, mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer's disease (e.g. [20], [21], [67]). "
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    ABSTRACT: Resting state brain networks (RSNs) are spatially distributed large-scale networks, evidenced by resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. Importantly, RSNs are implicated in several relevant brain functions and present abnormal functional patterns in many neuropsychiatric disorders, for which stress exposure is an established risk factor. Yet, so far, little is known about the effect of stress in the architecture of RSNs, both in resting state conditions or during shift to task performance. Herein we assessed the architecture of the RSNs using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a cohort of participants exposed to prolonged stress (participants that had just finished their long period of preparation for the medical residence selection exam), and respective gender- and age-matched controls (medical students under normal academic activities). Analysis focused on the pattern of activity in resting state conditions and after deactivation. A volumetric estimation of the RSNs was also performed. Data shows that stressed participants displayed greater activation of the default mode (DMN), dorsal attention (DAN), ventral attention (VAN), sensorimotor (SMN), and primary visual (VN) networks than controls. Importantly, stressed participants also evidenced impairments in the deactivation of resting state-networks when compared to controls. These functional changes are paralleled by a constriction of the DMN that is in line with the pattern of brain atrophy observed after stress exposure. These results reveal that stress impacts on activation-deactivation pattern of RSNs, a finding that may underlie stress-induced changes in several dimensions of brain activity.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · PLoS ONE
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