Many studies have shown that schizophrenia patients have aberrant functional network connectivity (FNC) among brain regions, suggesting schizophrenia manifests with significantly diminished (in majority of the cases) connectivity. Schizophrenia is also associated with a lack of hemispheric lateralization. Hoptman et al. (2012) reported lower inter-hemispheric connectivity in schizophrenia patients compared to controls using voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity. In this study, we merge these two points of views together using a group independent component analysis (gICA)-based approach to generate hemisphere-specific timecourses and calculate intra-hemisphere and inter-hemisphere FNC on a resting state fMRI dataset consisting of age- and gender-balanced 151 schizophrenia patients and 163 healthy controls. We analyzed the group differences between patients and healthy controls in each type of FNC measures along with age and gender effects. The results reveal that FNC in schizophrenia patients shows less hemispheric asymmetry compared to that of the healthy controls. We also found a decrease in connectivity in all FNC types such as intra-left (L_FNC), intra-right (R_FNC) and inter-hemisphere (Inter_FNC) in the schizophrenia patients relative to healthy controls, but general patterns of connectivity were preserved in patients. Analyses of age and gender effects yielded results similar to those reported in whole brain FNC studies.
Keywords: Functional network connectivity; Hemisphere; Heterotopic connectivity; Homotopic connectivity; Lateral connectivity; Laterality; Schizophrenia.