Abnormalities in white matter connections between orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex and their associations with negative symptoms in schizophrenia: a DTI study

Ohtani T, Bouix S, Hosokawa T, Saito Y, Eckbo R, Ballinger T, Rausch A, Melonakos E, Kubicki M

Schizophr. Res. 2014 Aug;157(1-3):190-7

PMID: 24962436


INTRODUCTION: The medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) and rostral part of the anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) are brain regions that are important in the neural network involving emotional processing and decision making, as well as playing an important role in social behavior and interaction. Considering the schizophrenia dysconnectivity hypothesis, observed abnormalities in emotional response and social behavior in schizophrenia might be associated with connectivity abnormalities between mOFC and rACC.

METHODS: Twenty-seven patients with chronic schizophrenia and 26 healthy controls were examined using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). White matter properties in bilateral mOFC-rACC connections were examined using stochastic tractography, which has been shown to be among the most effective DTI methods for examining tracts between adjacent gray matter regions.

RESULTS: Reductions in fractional anisotropy (FA) were observed in left anterior mOFC-rACC connections (p<0.0001), and bilateral posterior mOFC-rACC connections (left: p<0.0001; right: p<0.0001) in patients compared to controls. In addition, reduced FA in left posterior mOFC-rACC connections was associated with more severe anhedonia-asociality (R=-0.396, p=0.041) and avolition-apathy (R=-0.426, p=0.027) using the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms.

DISCUSSION: White matter abnormalities within connections between mOFC and rACC are associated with more severe anhedonia-asociality and avolition-apathy, which suggest that these brain regions may be important in understanding abnormal emotional responses and social behavior in patients with schizophrenia.