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New insight in brain connectivity in Schizophrenia

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The term “schizophrenia” was coined by Bleuler to denote a syndrome characterized by splitting of cognitive, perceptual, and behavioral functions. This fragmentation of the mind, although clinically well known and observed, has not been deeply explored. However, over the past two decades, a large number of ...

The term “schizophrenia” was coined by Bleuler to denote a syndrome characterized by splitting of cognitive, perceptual, and behavioral functions. This fragmentation of the mind, although clinically well known and observed, has not been deeply explored. However, over the past two decades, a large number of neurophysiological and neuroimaging studies of patients with schizophrenia have furnished evidence that such abnormal functional integration of brain domains may find some correspondence in a failure of neural connectivity.
In particular, several studies have shown in patients with schizophrenia a pattern of altered connectivity between distant brain areas such as the prefrontal, parietal and temporal areas, the thalamus, the cerebellum and the hippocampus. Such altered connectivity may be observed at the level of functional connectivity but can also be shown anatomically, through microstructural changes of white matter fibers. Beyond the abnormal integration of these more global neural networks, other studies have shown some rather specific disturbances. For example, it has been suggested that schizophrenia may be associated with a context-independent functional connectivity deficit, upon which more circumscribed, context-dependent alterations are associated with transient states of abnormal connectivity. Furthermore, recent findings have investigated the possible relationship between abnormal connectivity with some specific psychopathological domains. For example, previous studies have reported a strong relationship between the parietal-frontal connectivity and the degree of negative symptomatology. Similarly, a reduced fronto-temporal functional connectivity in schizophrenia has been associated with auditory hallucinations. However, although many advances have been made in understanding this phenomenon, there are still many challenges that need to be explored. The purpose of this Research Topic is to create a better understanding of brain connectivity in schizophrenia. For this Research Topic, we encourage the submission of contributions (reviews, original research articles and opinion papers) that will address the following matters:
1) Different studies have revealed an abnormal pattern of connectivity in various psychiatric conditions, both affective and psychotic. However, a very few studies have examined if such abnormal connectivity patterns are specific to schizophrenia.
2) Some studies have tried to link various aspects of schizophrenic symptomatology with both global and topological alteration of connectivity. Such findings now need to be replicated and extended in larger clinical samples.
3) The majority of the studies on connectivity have investigated this topic using specific imaging techniques (fMRI, TMS, EEG, MEG). However, the integration of these different approaches, both functional and morphological, should be encouraged.
4) Finally, new insights are needed to understand the physiological mechanisms underlying specific dysfunctional cognitive domains in psychosis (perceptual attention, language, memory). We argue that this can be better achieved by studying the different patterns of connectivity involving complex networks of brain areas in both symptomatic and resting states and in both diseased and healthy populations.


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