Functional connectivity during affective mentalizing in criminal offenders with psychotic disorders: Associations with clinical symptoms

Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2018 Jan 30;271:91-99. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2017.11.003. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


Psychotic disorders are associated with neurobehavioral impairments in mental state attribution (mentalizing). These impairments are most severe in psychotic patients with elevated symptom levels, particularly negative and cognitive symptoms. There have been few studies of functional connectivity related to mentalizing in psychotic disorders and associations with symptoms. We conducted a functional MRI study of affective mentalizing in individuals with psychotic disorders and varying symptom levels (positive, negative, cognitive). Participants were drawn from an adjudicated inpatient forensic psychiatric population (criminal offenders). Functional MRI scans were acquired using a 32-channel ultra-fast multiband imaging sequence. Mentalizing task performance and functional connectivity were assessed in psychotic criminal offenders (n = 46) and nonpsychotic offenders (n = 41). Temporal coherent brain networks were estimated with group independent component analysis (ICA). Relative to nonpsychotic offenders, psychotic offenders showed impaired task performance and reduced activation in a component comprising the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, superior temporal gyrus, and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. Positive and cognitive symptoms were inversely correlated with component activity and task performance. The results are discussed with reference to potential mechanisms underlying impaired social cognition in psychotic disorders and across symptom types.

Keywords: Psychosis; Social cognition; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Criminals* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging*
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Social Behavior
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Theory of Mind* / physiology