The relationship between the resting state functional connectivity and social cognition in schizophrenia: Results from the Italian Network for Research on Psychoses

Schizophr Res. 2024 May:267:330-340. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2024.04.009. Epub 2024 Apr 12.


Deficits in social cognition (SC) interfere with recovery in schizophrenia (SZ) and may be related to resting state brain connectivity. This study aimed at assessing the alterations in the relationship between resting state functional connectivity and the social-cognitive abilities of patients with SZ compared to healthy subjects. We divided the brain into 246 regions of interest (ROI) following the Human Healthy Volunteers Brainnetome Atlas. For each participant, we calculated the resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) in terms of degree centrality (DC), which evaluates the total strength of the most powerful coactivations of every ROI with all other ROIs during rest. The rs-DC of the ROIs was correlated with five measures of SC assessing emotion processing and mentalizing in 45 healthy volunteers (HVs) chosen as a normative sample. Then, controlling for symptoms severity, we verified whether these significant associations were altered, i.e., absent or of opposite sign, in 55 patients with SZ. We found five significant differences between SZ patients and HVs: in the patients' group, the correlations between emotion recognition tasks and rsFC of the right entorhinal cortex (R-EC), left superior parietal lobule (L-SPL), right caudal hippocampus (R-c-Hipp), and the right caudal (R-c) and left rostral (L-r) middle temporal gyri (MTG) were lost. An altered resting state functional connectivity of the L-SPL, R-EC, R-c-Hipp, and bilateral MTG in patients with SZ may be associated with impaired emotion recognition. If confirmed, these results may enhance the development of non-invasive brain stimulation interventions targeting those cerebral regions to reduce SC deficit in SZ.

Keywords: Emotion recognition; Entorhinal cortex; Middle temporal gyrus; Superior parietal lobule; fMRI; hippocampus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Connectome
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mentalization / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Rest / physiology
  • Schizophrenia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Schizophrenia* / physiopathology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Social Cognition*
  • Theory of Mind / physiology
  • Young Adult