Fronto-striatal hypoactivation during correct information retrieval in patients with schizophrenia: an fMRI study

K Koch, G Wagner, I Nenadic, C Schachtzabel, C Schultz, M Roebel, J R Reichenbach, H Sauer, R G M Schlösser
Neuroscience 2008 April 22, 153 (1): 54-62
Working memory (WM) deficits are core symptoms of schizophrenia. Differing behavioral performance is known to represent a potent moderating variable when investigating the neural correlates of working memory in patients with schizophrenia compared with healthy controls. The present functional magnetic resonance imaging study examined performance-matched cerebral activity during correct WM retrieval by balancing the mean number of correct responses as well as the mean response times between patients and controls and analyzing remaining correct trials. Forty-one schizophrenia patients and 41 healthy controls performed an event-related Sternberg task allowing for analysis of correctly remembered trials. Correct retrieval was associated with activation in a bilateral fronto-parieto-occipital network comprising mainly the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and superior parietal cortex in controls and, to a weaker degree, in patients. Direct group comparison revealed significantly decreased activations in patients in the posterior (Brodmann area (BA) 31) and anterior (BA 32) cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial caudate bilaterally when matching for performance. When matching for performance and response speed there was additional hypoactivation in the insula. Mean response times were negatively correlated with cingulate and caudate activation only in controls. Present findings suggest that during efficient WM retrieval processing patients exhibit only slightly impaired activation in a task-specific network containing mainly prefrontal and superior parietal areas. However, hypoactivation of areas predominantly responsible for cognitive control and response execution seems to remain even under performance-matched conditions. Given the relevant role of the caudate and the ACC in dopaminergically mediated executive processing, the results bear crucial implications for the psychopathology of schizophrenia.

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