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Pathophysiology of psychopathology: Formal thought disorder measured by combined fMRI and EEG.

Applicant Strik Werner
Number 100823
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Universitätsklinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Neurology, Psychiatry
Start/End 01.12.2003 - 31.03.2007
Approved amount 146'760.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Neurology, Psychiatry
Neurophysiology and Brain Research

Keywords (10)

Psychosis; schizophrenia; formal thought disorder; language; MRI; fMRI; ASL; VBM; ERP; EEG

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Schizophrenia is a complex disorder with a wide range of symptoms. Many studies have found evidence of abnormal brain structure and function in schizophrenic patients; however, most of the reported abnormalities occur only in a subset of cases. It is likely that the heterogeneity of clinical symptoms reflects heterogeneity in pathology. There is increasing evidence that even complex schizophrenic symptoms such as hallucinations and thought disorders can be traced to abnormalities in specific brain regions. Formal thought disorder (FTD) is one of the main symptoms of schizophrenia. Although there are several theories on the neurophysiological origin of formal thought disorder in schizophrenia, Kerns and Berenbaum were able to identify three components that have been consistently associated with FTD: impaired executive functioning, impaired semantic memory, and changes in spreading activation in semantic memory. Because executive function in semantic processes, semantic memory, and spreading activation in semantic memory are central components of the language system, FTD is often viewed as a complex dysfunction of this system. One of the most robust findings for FTD is volume reduction in the left superior temporal gyrus (STG). The posterior part of the left STG plays a major role in the human language system and is crucial for the proper function of semantic memory. Thus, a reduction in left STG volume could potentially account for the disturbances in semantic memory observed in FTD. Nonetheless, volume loss alone cannot fully explain the transient and often rapidly changing character of FTD in the majority of patients. Presumably, the heterogeneous presentation of FTD is caused by a number of additional and dynamic factors. The primary aim of the project was to clarify the specific relationship between the severity of FTD and resting perfusion (measured by arterial spin labeling), language functions (measured by fMRI and event related potentials) and gray matter volume (measured by voxel based morphometry). We hope this project will shed light on the neurophysiological foundation of formal thought disorder in schizophrenia in order to allow a more specific therapeutic research.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
127359 Formal thought disorder: Pathophysiology and its implication for specific treatment 01.05.2010 Project funding (Div. I-III)