Does function follow form?: methods to fuse structural and functional brain images show decreased linkage in schizophrenia

Neuroimage. 2010 Feb 1;49(3):2626-37. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.08.056. Epub 2009 Sep 3.


When both structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) and functional MRI (fMRI) data are collected they are typically analyzed separately and the joint information is not examined. Techniques that examine joint information can help to find hidden traits in complex disorders such as schizophrenia. The brain is vastly interconnected, and local brain morphology may influence functional activity at distant regions. In this paper we introduce three methods to identify inter-correlations among sMRI and fMRI voxels within the whole brain. We apply these methods to examine sMRI gray matter data and fMRI data derived from an auditory sensorimotor task from a large study of schizophrenia. In Method 1 the sMRI-fMRI cross-correlation matrix is reduced to a histogram and results show that healthy controls (HC) have stronger correlations than do patients with schizophrenia (SZ). In Method 2 the spatial information of sMRI-fMRI correlations is retained. Structural regions in the cerebellum and frontal regions show more positive and more negative correlations, respectively, with functional regions in HC than in SZ. In Method 3 significant sMRI-fMRI inter-regional links are detected, with regions in the cerebellum showing more significant positive correlations with functional regions in HC relative to SZ. Results from all three methods indicate that the linkage between gray matter and functional activation is stronger in HC than SZ. The methods introduced can be easily extended to comprehensively correlate large data sets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*