Dimensional concepts such as the Research Domain Criteria initiative have been proposed to disentangle the heterogeneity of schizophrenia. One model introduced three neurobiologically informed behavioral dimensions: language, affectivity and motor behavior. To study the brain-behavior associations of these three dimensions, we investigated whether current behavioral alterations were linked to resting state perfusion in distinct brain circuits in schizophrenia. In total, 47 patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and 44 healthy controls were included. Psychopathology was assessed with the Positive And Negative Syndrome Scale and the Bern Psychopathology scale (BPS). The BPS provides severity ratings of three behavioral dimensions (language, affectivity and motor). Patients were classified according to the severity of alterations (severe, mild, no) in each dimension. Whole brain resting state cerebral blood flow (CBF) was compared between patient subgroups and controls. Two symptom dimensions were associated with distinct CBF changes. Behavioral alterations in the language dimension were linked to increased CBF in Heschl's gyrus. Altered affectivity was related to increased CBF in amygdala. The ratings of motor behavior instead were not specifically associated with CBF. Investigating behavioral alterations in three schizophrenia symptom dimensions identified distinct regional CBF changes in the language and limbic brain circuits. The results demonstrate a hitherto unknown segregation of pathophysiological pathways underlying a limited number of specific symptom dimensions in schizophrenia.
Keywords: Bern Psychopathology scale; Formal thought disorder; Movement disorder; Paranoia; Symptom domains; Threat.
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