AUTHORS: Bortolin K, Delavari F, Preti MG, Sandini C, Mancini V, Mullier E, Van De Ville D, Eliez S

NeuroImage: Clinical, 35(2022): 103075, June 2022



Dysconnectivity has been consistently proposed as a major key mechanism in psychosis. Indeed, disruptions in large-scale structural and functional brain networks have been associated with psychotic symptoms. However, brain activity is largely constrained by underlying white matter pathways and the study of function-structure dependency, compared to conventional unimodal analysis, allows a biologically relevant assessment of neural mechanisms. The 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) constitutes a remarkable opportunity to study the pathophysiological processes of psychosis.


58 healthy controls and 57 deletion carriers, aged from 16 to 32 years old, underwent resting-state functional and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. Deletion carriers were additionally fully assessed for psychotic symptoms. Firstly, we used a graph signal processing method to combine brain activity and structural connectivity measures to obtain regional structural decoupling indexes (SDIs). We use SDI to assess the differences of functional structural dependency (FSD) across the groups. Subsequently we investigated how alterations in FSDs are associated with the severity of positive psychotic symptoms in participants with 22q11DS.


In line with previous findings, participants in both groups showed a spatial gradient of FSD ranging from sensory-motor regions (stronger FSD) to regions involved in higher-order function (weaker FSD). Compared to controls, in participants with 22q11DS, and further in deletion carriers with more severe positive psychotic symptoms, the functional activity was more strongly dependent on the structure in parahippocampal gyrus and subcortical dopaminergic regions, while it was less dependent within the cingulate cortex. This analysis revealed group differences not otherwise detected when assessing the structural and functional nodal measures separately.


Our findings point toward a disrupted modulation of functional activity on the underlying structure, which was further associated to psychopathology for candidate critical regions in 22q11DS. This study provides the first evidence for the clinical relevance of function-structure dependency and its contribution to the emergence of psychosis.

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