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Neural correlates of positive and negative symptoms through the illness course: an fMRI study in early psychosis and chronic schizophrenia

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Original languageEnglish
Article number14444
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Published1 Dec 2019

King's Authors


Psychotic illness is associated with cognitive control deficits and abnormal recruitment of neural circuits subserving cognitive control. It is unclear to what extent this dysfunction underlies the development and/or maintenance of positive and negative symptoms typically observed in schizophrenia. In this study we compared fMRI activation on a standard Stroop task and its relationship with positive and negative symptoms in early psychosis (EP, N = 88) and chronic schizophrenia (CHR-SZ, N = 38) patients. CHR-SZ patients showed reduced frontal, striatal, and parietal activation across incongruent and congruent trials compared to EP patients. Higher positive symptom severity was associated with reduced activation across both trial types in supplementary motor area (SMA), middle temporal gyrus and cerebellum in EP, but not CHR-SZ patients. Higher negative symptom severity was associated with reduced cerebellar activation in EP, but not in CHR-SZ patients. A negative correlation between negative symptoms and activation in SMA and precentral gyrus was observed in EP patients and in CHR-SZ patients. The results suggest that the neural substrate of positive symptoms changes with illness chronicity, and that cognitive control related neural circuits may be most relevant in the initial development phase of positive symptoms. These findings also highlight a changing role for the cerebellum in the development and later maintenance of both positive and negative symptoms.

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