Topographic analysis of individual activation patterns in medial frontal cortex in schizophrenia
Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology
Adult; Brain Mapping; Cluster Analysis; Cognition; Frontal Lobe; Humans; Image Processing, Computer-Assisted; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Male; Neuropsychological Tests; Psychomotor Performance; Reaction Time; Schizophrenia; Task Performance and Analysis
Individual variability in the location of neural activations poses a unique problem for neuroimaging studies employing group averaging techniques to investigate the neural bases of cognitive and emotional functions. This may be especially challenging for studies examining patient groups, which often have limited sample sizes and increased intersubject variability. In particular, medial frontal cortex (MFC) dysfunction is thought to underlie performance monitoring dysfunction among patients with schizophrenia, yet previous studies using group averaging to compare schizophrenic patients to controls have yielded conflicting results. To examine individual activations in MFC associated with two aspects of performance monitoring, interference and error processing, functional magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired while 17 patients with schizophrenia and 21 healthy controls (HCs) performed an event-related version of the multisource interference task. Comparisons of averaged data revealed few differences between the groups. By contrast, topographic analysis of individual activations for errors showed that control subjects exhibited activations spanning across both posterior and anterior regions of MFC while patients primarily activated posterior MFC, possibly reflecting an impaired emotional response to errors in schizophrenia. This discrepancy between topographic and group-averaged results may be due to the significant dispersion among individual activations, particularly in HCs, highlighting the importance of considering intersubject variability when interpreting the medial frontal response to error commission.
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Citation: Hum Brain Mapp. 2009 Jul;30(7):2146-56. Link to article on publisher's site