BACKGROUND: Previous research has shown that the human brain can be represented as a complex functional network that is characterized by specific topological properties, such as clustering coefficient, characteristic path length, and global/local efficiency. Patients with psychotic disorder may have alterations in these properties with respect to controls, indicating altered efficiency of network organization. This study examined graph theoretical changes in relation to differential genetic risk for the disorder and aimed to identify clinical correlates.
METHODS: Anatomical and resting-state MRI brain scans were obtained from 73 patients with psychotic disorder, 83 unaffected siblings, and 72 controls. Topological measures (i.e., clustering coefficient, characteristic path length, and small-worldness) were used as dependent variables in a multilevel random regression analysis to investigate group differences. In addition, associations with (subclinical) psychotic/cognitive symptoms were examined.
RESULTS: Patients had a significantly lower clustering coefficient compared to siblings and controls, with no difference between the latter groups. No group differences were observed for characteristic path length and small-worldness. None of the topological properties were associated with (sub)clinical psychotic and cognitive symptoms.
CONCLUSIONS: The reduced ability for specialized processing (reflected by a lower clustering coefficient) within highly interconnected brain regions observed in the patient group may indicate state-related network alterations. There was no evidence for an intermediate phenotype and no evidence for psychopathology-related alterations.
- Journal Article