Amygdalofrontal functional disconnectivity and aggression in schizophrenia.
A significant proportion of patients with schizophrenia demonstrate abnormalities in dorsal prefrontal regions including the dorsolateral prefrontal and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices. However, it is less clear to what extent abnormalities are exhibited in ventral prefrontal and limbic regions, despite their involvement in social cognitive dysfunction and aggression, which represent problem domains for patients with schizophrenia. Previously, we found that reduced white matter integrity in right inferior frontal regions was associated with higher levels of aggression. Here, we used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine amygdala/ventral prefrontal cortex (vPFC) functional connectivity (FC) and its relation to aggression in schizophrenia. Twenty-one healthy controls and 25 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder participated. Aggression was measured using the Buss Perry Aggression Questionnaire. Regions of interest were placed in the amygdala based on previously published work. A voxelwise FC analysis was performed in which the mean time series across voxels for this bilateral amygdala seed was entered as a predictor in a multiple regression model with motion parameters and global, cerebrospinal fluid, and white matter signals as covariates. Patients showed significant reductions in FC between amygdala and vPFC regions. Moreover, in patients, the strength of this connection showed a significant inverse relationship with aggression, such that lower FC was associated with higher levels of self-rated aggression. Similar results were obtained for 2 other measures--Life History of Aggression and total arrests. These results suggest that amygdala/vPFC FC is compromised in schizophrenia and that this compromise is associated with aggression.