Impaired cognitive empathy is a core social cognitive deficit in schizophrenia associated with negative symptoms and social functioning. Cognitive empathy and negative symptoms have also been linked to medial prefrontal and temporal brain networks. While shared behavioral and neural underpinnings are suspected for cognitive empathy and negative symptoms, research is needed to test these hypotheses. In two studies, we evaluated whether resting-state functional connectivity between data-driven networks, or components (referred to as, inter-component connectivity), predicted cognitive empathy and experiential and expressive negative symptoms in schizophrenia subjects. Study 1: We examined associations between cognitive empathy and medial prefrontal and temporal inter-component connectivity at rest using a group-matched schizophrenia and control sample. We then assessed whether inter-component connectivity metrics associated with cognitive empathy were also related to negative symptoms. Study 2: We sought to replicate the connectivity-symptom associations observed in Study 1 using an independent schizophrenia sample. Study 1 results revealed that while the groups did not differ in average inter-component connectivity, a medial-fronto-temporal metric and an orbito-fronto-temporal metric were related to cognitive empathy. Moreover, the medial-fronto-temporal metric was associated with experiential negative symptoms in both schizophrenia samples. These findings support recent models that link social cognition and negative symptoms in schizophrenia. Hum Brain Mapp 38:1111–1124, 2017.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the research staff at the Northwestern University Schizophrenia Research Group and Washington University in St. Louis for study coordination and data collection. They also want to acknowledge the participants for volunteering their time. Lastly, they thank Dr. Colin G. DeYoung for allowing them to apply his ICA-derived spatial maps in their analyses.
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
- resting-state fMRI