Causal Connectivity From Right DLPFC to IPL in Schizophrenia Patients: A Pilot Study

SOURCE: Schizophrenia. 8(1) (no pagination), 2022. Article Number: 16.


AUTHORS: Curcic-Blake B.; Kos C.; Aleman A.

ABSTRACT: Abnormal function and connectivity of the fronto-parietal network (FPN) have been documented in patients with schizophrenia, but studies are correlational. We applied repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and observed causal connectivity to the inferior parietal lobe (IPL). We hypothesized that patients with schizophrenia would have lower activation and slower reaction in the IPL following DLPFC stimulation. Thirteen patients with schizophrenia (SZ) and fourteen healthy controls subjects (HC) underwent rTMS at 10 Hz to the right DLPFC. Simultaneously, we measured brain activation in the IPL, represented as oxygenized hemoglobin (HbO) levels, using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). rTMS consisted of 20 trains of impulses at 10 Hz for 3 seconds, and 60 seconds waiting time. Using NIRSLab software, GLM was applied to estimate both hemodynamic response function (HRF) and its derivative. Following TMS to the DLPFC, SZ showed a smaller decrease in HbO levels in the bilateral IPL than HC (p = 0.05). Timecourse analysis revealed an immediate decrease in parietal HbO levels in HC, but not in SZ. This difference was significant (at a threshold level of p <= 0.05, with Bonferroni correction) for several time segments and channels in both rights and left IPL. Our findings suggest abnormal fronto-temporal connectivity in patients with schizophrenia, beyond a mere decrease or slowing of information processing. This is in line with the hypothesis of reduced fronto-parietal inhibition in