Cingulum bundle integrity associated with delusions of control in schizophrenia: Preliminary evidence from diffusion-tensor tractography

Whitford TJ, Kubicki M, Pelavin PE, Lucia D, Schneiderman JS, Pantelis C, McCarley RW, Shenton ME

Schizophr. Res. 2015 Jan;161(1):36-41

PMID: 25311780


BACKGROUND: Delusions of control are among the most distinctive and characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia. Several theories have been proposed that implicate aberrant communication between spatially disparate brain regions in the etiology of this symptom. Given that white matter fasciculi represent the anatomical infrastructure for long-distance communication in the brain, the present study investigated whether delusions of control were associated with structural abnormalities in four major white matter fasciculi.

METHODS: Ten schizophrenia patients with current delusions of control, 13 patients with no clinical history of delusions of control, and 12 healthy controls underwent a Diffusion-Tensor Imaging (DTI) scan. Deterministic tractography was used to extract the corpus callosum, superior longitudinal fasciculus, arcuate fasciculus, and cingulum bundle. The structural integrity of these four fasciculi was quantified with fractional anisotropy (FA) and compared between groups.

RESULTS: The patients with delusions of control exhibited significantly lower FA in all four fasciculi, relative to the healthy controls. Furthermore, the patients with delusions of control also exhibited significantly lower FA in the cingulum bundle relative to patients without a history of this symptom, and this difference remained significant when controlling for between-group differences in global SAPS score and medication dosage.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that structural damage to the cingulum bundle may be involved in the etiology of delusions of control, possibly because of its role in connecting the action initiation areas of the premotor cortex with the cingulate gyrus.