The amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (ALFF) in the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal during resting-state fMRI reflects the magnitude of local low-frequency BOLD oscillations, rather than interregional connectivity. ALFF is of interest to studies of cognition because fluctuations in spontaneous intrinsic brain activity relate to, and possibly even constrain, task-evoked brain responses in healthy people. Lower ALFF has been reported in schizophrenia, but the cognitive correlates of these reductions remain unknown. Here, we assess relationships between ALFF and attention and working memory in order to establish the functional relevance of intrinsic BOLD oscillatory power alterations with respect to specific cognitive impairments in schizophrenia. As part of the multisite FBIRN study, resting-state fMRI data were collected from schizophrenia subjects (SZ; n=168) and healthy controls (HC; n=166). Voxelwise fractional ALFF (fALFF), a normalized ALFF measure, was regressed on neuropsychological measures of sustained attention and working memory in SZ and HC to identify regions showing either common slopes across groups or slope differences between groups (all findings p<0.01 height, p<0.05 family-wise error cluster corrected). Poorer sustained attention was associated with smaller fALFF in the left superior frontal cortex and bilateral temporoparietal junction in both groups, with additional relationships in bilateral posterior parietal, posterior cingulate, dorsal anterior cingulate (ACC), and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) evident only in SZ. Poorer working memory was associated with smaller fALFF in bilateral ACC/mPFC, DLPFC, and posterior parietal cortex in both groups. Our findings indicate that smaller amplitudes of low-frequency BOLD oscillations during rest, measured by fALFF, were significantly associated with poorer cognitive performance, sometimes similarly in both groups and sometimes only in SZ, in regions known to subserve sustained attention and working memory. Taken together, these data suggest that the magnitude of resting-state BOLD oscillations shows promise as a biomarker of cognitive function in health and disease.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Michael Brandel and Vanessa Palzes for assistance with data analyses and manuscript preparation. This research was supported by NIH (U24 RR021992) and the VA (CX001028).
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