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Aberrant intrinsic brain activity and cognitive deficit in first-episode treatment-naive patients with schizophrenia

  • Z. He (a1) (a2) (a3), W. Deng (a1) (a2), M. Li (a1) (a2), Z. Chen (a1) (a2), L. Jiang (a1) (a2), Q. Wang (a1) (a2), C. Huang (a1) (a2), D. A. Collier (a4), Q. Gong (a5), X. Ma (a1) (a2), N. Zhang (a6) and T. Li (a1) (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 10 August 2012

Given the important role of the default mode network (DMN) in cognitive function and the well-known neurocognitive deficit in schizophrenia, it is intriguing to examine systematically the relationship between neurocognitive dysfunction and aberrant intrinsic activities, and also functional connectivity, of the DMN in patients with schizophrenia.


First-episode, treatment-naive patients with schizophrenia (FES) (n = 115) and healthy controls (n = 113) underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans and neurocognitive tests. Intrinsic neural activities evaluated by using the fragment amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (fALFF) and the resting-state functional connectivity assessed by seed-based correlational analysis were compared between patients and controls. Aberrant intrinsic activities and DMN connectivity in patients were then correlated to neurocognitive performance and clinical symptoms.


Compared to controls, patients with FES showed decreased fALFF in the bilateral medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), and increased fALFF in the bilateral putamen. Increased functional connectivity with the DMN was observed in the left insula and bilateral dorsolateral PFC (DLPFC) in patients with FES. In patients, aberrant fALFF in the bilateral OFC were correlated with cognitive processing speed; fALFF in the left OFC and right putamen were correlated with the clinical factors excited/activation and disorganization; and increased DMN functional connectivity in the left insula was correlated with the clinical factors positive, excited/activation, disorganization and neurocognitive deficit in the domain of sustained attention.


These associations between neurocognitive dysfunction and aberrant intrinsic activities, and also functional connectivity, of the DMN in patients with schizophrenia may provide important insights into the neural mechanism of the disease.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr T. Li, The Mental Health Center and the Psychiatric Laboratory, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan 610041, China. (Email: [T. Li]
(Email: [N. Zhang]
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Psychological Medicine
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