Thalamo-cortical functional connectivity in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
BACKGROUND Biomarkers are needed that can distinguish between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder to inform the ongoing debate over the diagnostic boundary between these two disorders. Neuromorphometric abnormalities of the thalamus have been reported in individuals with schizophrenia and linked to core features of the disorder, but have not been similarly investigated in individuals with schizoaffective disorder. In this study, we examine whether individuals with schizoaffective disorder have a pattern of thalamic deformation that is similar or different to the pattern found in individuals with schizophrenia. METHOD T1-weighted magnetic resonance images were collected from individuals with schizophrenia (n = 47), individuals with schizoaffective disorder (n = 15), and controls (n = 42). Large-deformation, high-dimensional brain mapping was used to obtain three-dimensional surfaces of the thalamus. Multiple analyses of variance were used to test for group differences in volume and measures of surface shape. RESULTS Individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder have similar thalamic volumes. Thalamic surface shape deformation associated with schizophrenia suggests selective involvement of the anterior and posterior thalamus, while deformations in mediodorsal and ventrolateral regions were observed in both groups. Schizoaffective disorder had distinct deformations in medial and lateral thalamic regions. CONCLUSIONS Abnormalities distinct to schizoaffective disorder suggest involvement of the central and ventroposterior medial thalamus which may be involved in mood circuitry, dorsolateral nucleus which is involved in recall processing, and the lateral geniculate nucleus which is involved in visual processing.