New study reveals shift in global brain signals in schizophrenia
Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a disabling neuropsychiatric disease associated with disruptions across distributed neural systems. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging has identified extensive abnormalities in the blood-oxygen level-dependent signal in SCZ patients, including alterations in the average signal over the brain—i.e. the “global” signal (GS). It remains unknown, however, if these “global” alterations occur pervasively or follow a spatially preferential pattern. This study presents the first network-by-network quantification of GS topography in healthy subjects and SCZ patients. We observed a nonuniform GS contribution in healthy comparison subjects, whereby sensory areas exhibited the largest GS component. In SCZ patients, we identified preferential GS representation increases across association regions, while sensory regions showed preferential reductions. GS representation in sensory versus association cortices was strongly anti-correlated in healthy subjects. This anti-correlated relationship was markedly reduced in SCZ. Such shifts in GS topography may underlie profound alterations in neural information flow in SCZ, informing development of pharmacotherapies.