Functional connectomics of affective and psychotic pathology

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Apr 30;116(18):9050-9059. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1820780116. Epub 2019 Apr 15.


Converging evidence indicates that groups of patients with nominally distinct psychiatric diagnoses are not separated by sharp or discontinuous neurobiological boundaries. In healthy populations, individual differences in behavior are reflected in variability across the collective set of functional brain connections (functional connectome). These data suggest that the spectra of transdiagnostic symptom profiles observed in psychiatric patients may map onto detectable patterns of network function. To examine the manner through which neurobiological variation might underlie clinical presentation, we obtained fMRI data from over 1,000 individuals, including 210 diagnosed with a primary psychotic disorder or affective psychosis (bipolar disorder with psychosis and schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder), 192 presenting with a primary affective disorder without psychosis (unipolar depression, bipolar disorder without psychosis), and 608 demographically matched healthy comparison participants recruited through a large-scale study of brain imaging and genetics. Here, we examine variation in functional connectomes across psychiatric diagnoses, finding striking evidence for disease connectomic "fingerprints" that are commonly disrupted across distinct forms of pathology and appear to scale as a function of illness severity. The presence of affective and psychotic illnesses was associated with graded disruptions in frontoparietal network connectivity (encompassing aspects of dorsolateral prefrontal, dorsomedial prefrontal, lateral parietal, and posterior temporal cortices). Conversely, other properties of network connectivity, including default network integrity, were preferentially disrupted in patients with psychotic illness, but not patients without psychotic symptoms. This work allows us to establish key biological and clinical features of the functional connectomes of severe mental disease.

Keywords: bipolar disorder; functional connectome; major depressive disorder; resting-state connectivity; schizophrenia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Rest / physiology
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology