MRI diffusion tractography study in individuals with schizotypal features: A pilot study



Publication Details

Smallman, R. P., Barkus, E., Azadbakht, H., Embleton, K. V., Haroon, H. A., Lewis, S. W., Morris, D. M., Parker, G. J. & Rushe, T. M. (2014). MRI diffusion tractography study in individuals with schizotypal features: A pilot study. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 221 (1), 49-57.


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies have identified changes in white matter tracts in schizophrenia patients and those at high risk of transition. Schizotypal samples represent a group on the schizophrenia continuum that share some aetiological risk factors but without the confounds of illness. The aim of the current study was to compare tract microstructural coherence as measured by fractional anisotropy (FA) between 12 psychometrically defined schizotypes and controls. We investigated bilaterally the uncinate and arcuate fasciculi (UF and AF) via a probabilistic tractography algorithm (PICo), with FA values compared between groups. Partial correlations were also examined between measures of subclinical hallucinatory/delusional experiences and FA values. Participants with schizotypal features were found to have increased FA values in the left hemisphere UF only. In the whole sample there was a positive correlation between FA values and measures of hallucinatory experience in the right AF. These findings suggest subtle changes in microstructural coherence are found in individuals with schizotypal features, but are not similar to changes predominantly observed in clinical samples. Correlations between mild hallucinatory experience and FA values could indicate increasing tract coherence could be associated with symptom formation.

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