Altered Amygdala Connectivity Within the Social Brain in Schizophrenia

Prerona Mukherjee, Heather C Whalley, James W McKirdy, Reiner Sprengelmeyer, Andrew W Young, Andrew M McIntosh, Stephen M Lawrie, Jeremy Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Impairments in social cognition have been described in schizophrenia and relate to core symptoms of the disorder. Social cognition is subserved by a network of brain regions, many of which have been implicated in schizophrenia. We hypothesized that deficits in connectivity between components of this social brain network may underlie the social cognition impairments seen in the disorder. Methods: We investigated brain activation and connectivity in a group of individuals with schizophrenia making social judgments of approachability from faces (n = 20), compared with a group of matched healthy volunteers (n = 24), using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Effective connectivity from the amygdala was estimated using the psychophysiological interaction approach. Results: While making approachability judgments, healthy participants recruited a network of social brain regions including amygdala, fusiform gyrus, cerebellum, and inferior frontal gyrus bilaterally and left medial prefrontal cortex. During the approachability task, healthy participants showed increased connectivity from the amygdala to the fusiform gyri, cerebellum, and left superior frontal cortex. In comparison to controls, individuals with schizophrenia overactivated the right middle frontal gyrus, superior frontal gyrus, and precuneus and had reduced connectivity between the amygdala and the insula cortex. Discussion: We report increased activation of frontal and medial parietal regions during social judgment in patients with schizophrenia, accompanied by decreased connectivity between the amygdala and insula. We suggest that the increased activation of frontal control systems and association cortex may reflect a compensatory mechanism for impaired connectivity of the amygdala with other parts of the social brain networks in schizophrenia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-160
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin: The Journal of Psychoses and Related Disorders
Issue number1
Early online date12 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


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