Neural Correlates of Mentalizing in Individuals With Clinical High Risk for Schizophrenia: ALE Meta-Analysis

Front Psychiatry. 2021 Apr 20:12:634015. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.634015. eCollection 2021.


Psychotic disorder refers to a spectrum of disorders that have multiple etiologies, due to the complex interaction of biological and genetic vulnerability with familial and cultural factors. A clinical high risk (CHR) for schizophrenia is defined as the presence of brief, attenuated, or intermittent psychotic symptoms in non-schizophrenic individuals. The transition to schizophrenia appears significantly more frequent in this at-risk population than in the general population. Moreover, the ability to attribute mental states to others, known as mentalizing or theory of mind, and its neural correlates found in individuals with CHR are similar to those described in patients with schizophrenia. We have therefore explored neurofunctional correlates of mentalizing in individuals with CHR vs. healthy controls, in order to identify the differences in brain activation. A neural coordinate-based activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis of existing neuroimaging data revealed that three regions displayed decreased activation in individuals with CHR, compared with healthy controls: the right temporoparietal junction, the right middle temporal gyrus, and the left precuneus. These results, combined with those in the literature, further support the hypothesis that abnormal activation of posterior brain regions involved in mentalizing correlates with psychotic symptoms in help-seeking individuals.

Keywords: fMRI; psychosis proneness; schizophrenia; social cognition; theory of mind.

Publication types

  • Review