The effects of anxiety on the activation of the brain in first episode schizophrenia patients; an fMRI study

Proposal details

Title: The effects of anxiety on the activation of the brain in first episode schizophrenia patients; an fMRI study
Research Area(s): Schizophrenia and Allied Psychoses
Background: Schizophrenia is a complex and chronic mental disorder that affects about one percent of the population across all cultures, sexes, and socioeconomic groups. Individuals with schizophrenia demonstrate impaired performances on tasks of executive function, attention and working memory. Previous fMRI studies of schizophrenia patients have used the auditory oddball paradigm to show a predominantly diffuse hypofunctioning of cortical and subcortical regions of the brain associated with processing salient stimuli in the context of oddball tasks. While previous papers have studied chronic schizophrenia patients, this study will use first episode schizophrenia patients in an endeavor to demonstrate an increase in activity in the relevant brain regions in schizophrenia subjects during the early stages of the disease. Beyond the traditional symptom clusters in schizophrenia of positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms, there are frequently comorbid psychiatric conditions that are of clinical importance. One of these conditions includes anxiety, and currently there is a lack of data on the activation of the brain of schizophrenia patients who also suffer from anxiety. This study will also be looking at the effect of DASS scored anxiety on the activation of the brain in individuals with schizophrenia.
Aims: To demonstrate an increase in the activation of relevant brain regions in first episode schizophrenia subjects compared to normal controls, and to elucidate the effect of anxiety on the activation of the brain using fMRI and the auditory oddball paradigm.
Method: Individuals with schizophrenia (n=32) and age and sex-matched controls (n=32) completed an auditory oddball paradigm adapted to functional magnetic resonance imaging at a 1.5T field strength. This data was then processed and analysed (whole and ROI) using Matlab and SPM2.