Cortico-thalamic dysconnection in early-stage schizophrenia: a functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging study


Studies have indicated thalamus-related network dysfunction in schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. However, whether thalamus-related functional connectivity (FC) contributes to the psychopathology and cognitive deficits of early-stage schizophrenia requires further investigation. A total of 34 patients with early-stage schizophrenia (illness duration = 1.62 ± 1.16 years; age = 26.00 ± 6.34 years) and 34 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were enrolled in our study and underwent comprehensive assessments of the clinical symptoms of schizophrenia, working memory tasks, and resting-state FC magnetic resonance imaging. The patients with early-stage schizophrenia had increased FC of the thalamus with the bilateral postcentral and temporal gyri, inferior occipital cortex, and temporal pole and decreased FC of the thalamus with the vestibulocerebellum and frontal pole compared with the controls. Furthermore, increased FC between the thalamus and temporal pole was positively correlated with positive scores of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale for Schizophrenia (PANSS) and negatively correlated with performance on working memory tasks in early-stage schizophrenia. Increased FC of the thalamus with the inferior occipital cortex was positively associated with negative PANSS scores and negatively correlated with Personal and Social Performance Scale scores in early-stage schizophrenia. Our results supported the vital role of thalamus-related network dysfunction in the psychopathology and cognitive deficits of early-stage schizophrenia.

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We thank Mr I-Fan Hu for his friendship and support. We thank Dr MHC, Dr JWH and Dr PCT, who designed the study and wrote the protocol and manuscripts, Dr TPS, Dr CTL, Dr SJT, Dr KLH, Dr YMB, and Dr WCL, who assisted with the preparation and proofreading of the manuscript, and Dr PCT and Miss WCC, who provided advice on MRI analysis and statistical analysis.


The study was supported by a grant from Taipei Veterans General Hospital (V106B-020, V107B-010, V107C-181) and Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (107-2314-B-075-063-MY3). The funding source had no role in any process of our study. All authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

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Correspondence to Pei-Chi Tu or Ju-Wei Hsu.

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Chen, M., Chang, W., Bai, Y. et al. Cortico-thalamic dysconnection in early-stage schizophrenia: a functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging study. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 270, 351–358 (2020).

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  • Early-stage schizophrenia
  • Thalamus
  • Functional connectivity