It has long been known that specific visual frequencies result in greater blood flow to the striate cortex. These peaks are thought to reflect synchrony of local neuronal firing that is reflective of local cortical networks. Since disrupted neural connectivity is a possible etiology for schizophrenia, our goal was to investigate whether localized connectivity, as measured by aberrant synchrony, is abnormal in children and adolescents with schizophrenia. Subjects included 25 children and adolescents with schizophrenia and 39 controls matched for age and gender. Subjects were scanned on a Siemens 3 Tesla Trio scanner while observing flashing checkerboard presented at either 1, 4, 8, or 12 Hz. Image processing included both a standard GLM model and a Fourier transform analysis. Patients had significantly smaller volume of activation in the occipital lobe compared to controls. There were no differences in the integral or percent signal change of the hemodynamic response function for each of the four frequencies. Occipital activation was stable during development between childhood and late adolescence. Finally, both patients and controls demonstrated an increased response between 4 and 8 Hz consistent with synchrony or entrainment in the neuronal response. Children and adolescents with schizophrenia had a significantly lower volume of activation in the occipital lobe in response to the flashing checkerboard task. However, features of intact local connectivity in patients, such as the hemodynamic response function and maximal response at 8 Hz, were normal. These results are consistent with abnormalities in regional connectivity with preserved local connectivity in early-onset schizophrenia. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011.

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Keywords Early-onset schizophrenia, FMRI, Flashing checkerboard, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Hemodynamic response function
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Journal Human Brain Mapping
White, T.J.H, Moeller, S, Schmidt, M, Pardo, J.V, & Olman, C. (2012). Evidence for intact local connectivity but disrupted regional function in the occipital lobe in children and adolescents with schizophrenia. Human Brain Mapping, 33(8), 1803–1811. doi:10.1002/hbm.21321