White matter microstructural differences between hallucinating and non-hallucinating schizophrenia spectrum patients
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionDiagnostics (Basel). 2021, 11(1), 139 10.3390/diagnostics11010139
The relation between auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) and white matter has been studied, but results are still inconsistent. This inconsistency may be related to having only a single time-point of AVH assessment in many studies, not capturing that AVH severity fluctuates over time. In the current study, AVH fluctuations were captured by utilizing a longitudinal design and using repeated (Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale) PANSS questionnaire interviews over a 12 month period. We used a Magnetic Resonance Diffusion Tensor Imaging (MR DTI) sequence and tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) to explore white matter differences between two subtypes of schizophrenia patients; 44 hallucinating (AVH+) and 13 non-hallucinating (AVH-), compared to 13 AVH- matched controls and 44 AVH+ matched controls. Additionally, we tested for hemispheric fractional anisotropy (FA) asymmetry between the groups. Significant widespread FA-value reduction was found in the AVH+ group in comparison to the AVH- group. Although not significant, the extracted FA-values for the control group were in between the two patient groups, for all clusters. We also found a significant difference in FA-asymmetry between the AVH+ and AVH- groups in two clusters, with significantly higher leftward asymmetry in the AVH- group. The current findings suggest a possible qualitative difference in white matter integrity between AVH+ and AVH- patients. Strengths and limitations of the study are discussed.