Decreased Functional Connectivity in Schizophrenia: The Relationship Between Social Functioning, Social Cognition and Graph Theoretical Network Measures


Schizophrenia is a complex disorder in which abnormalities in brain connectivity and social functioning play a central role. The aim of this study is to explore small-world network properties, and understand their relationship with social functioning and social cognition in the context of schizophrenia, by testing functional connectivity differences in network properties and its relation to clinical behavioral measures. Resting-state fMRI time series data were acquired from 23 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and 23 healthy volunteers. The results revealed that patients with schizophrenia show significantly decreased connectivity between a range of brain regions, particularly involving connections among the right orbitofrontal cortex, bilateral putamen and left amygdala. Furthermore, topological properties of functional brain networks in patients with schizophrenia were characterized by reduced path length compared to healthy controls; however, no significant difference was found for clustering coefficient, local efficiency or global efficiency. Additionally, we found that nodal efficiency of the amygdala and the putamen were significantly correlated with the independence-performance subscale of social functioning scale (SFC), and Reading the Mind in the Eyes test; however, the correlations do not survive correction for multiple comparison. The current results help to clarify the relationship between social functioning deficits and topological brain measures in schizophrenia.

Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging