Aberrant white matter structures in fronto-temporal regions have previously been identified in patients with schizophrenia. However, scant research has focused on white matter integrity in patients presenting with a first episode of psychosis (FEP) with persistent negative symptoms (PNS). This study aimed to explore microstructure in the neurocircuitry proposed to be involved in PNS, by using a region-of-interest approach. Secondly, the relationship between individual negative symptoms and white matter were explored. Fractional anisotropy (FA) was measured in the fornix and three other tracts bilaterally including the uncinate fasciculus, superior longitudinal fasciculus and the cingulum bundle. Twelve patients with PNS were compared to a non-PNS group (52) and a healthy control group (51). Results showed that the PNS group had significantly lower FA values in the fornix when compared to healthy controls and that the non-PNS group had significantly lower FA values in the right uncinate fasciculus compared to healthy controls. Significant correlations were observed between SANS global score for anhedonia-asociality and lower FA values in the right cingulum bundle. Our results suggest that fronto-temporal white matter might be more closely related to PNS and that this relationship may possibly be mediated by greater anhedonia in PNS patients.
Keywords: Anhedonia; Avolition; Negative symptoms, first episode psychosis; Persistent negative symptoms; White matter.
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