Abnormal interactions of verbal- and spatial-memory networks in young people at familial high-risk for schizophrenia

Xiaobo Li, Heidi W. Thermenos, Ziyan Wu, Yoko Momura, Kai Wu, Matcheri Keshavan, Lawrence Seidman, Lynn E. DeLisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background Working memory impairment (especially in verbal and spatial domains) is the core neurocognitive impairment in schizophrenia and the familial high-risk (FHR) population. Inconsistent results have been reported in clinical and neuroimaging studies examining the verbal- and spatial-memory deficits in the FHR subjects, due to sample differences and lack of understanding on interactions of the brain regions for processing verbal- and spatial-working memory. Methods Functional MRI data acquired during a verbal- vs. spatial-memory task were included from 51 young adults [26 FHR and 25 controls]. Group comparisons were conducted in brain activation patterns responding to 1) verbal-memory condition (A), 2) spatial-memory condition (B), 3) verbal higher than spatial (A–B), 4) spatial higher than verbal (B–A), 5) conjunction of brain regions that were activated during both A and B (A ∧ B). Group difference of the laterality index (LI) in inferior frontal lobe for condition A was also assessed. Results Compared to controls, the FHR group exhibited significantly decreased brain activity in left inferior frontal during A, and significantly stronger involvement of ACC, PCC, paracentral gyrus for the contrast of A–B. The LI showed a trend of reduced left-higher-than-right pattern for verbal-memory processing in the HR group. Conclusions Our findings suggest that in the entire functional brain network for working-memory processing, verbal information processing associated brain pathways are significantly altered in people at familial high risk for developing schizophrenia. Future studies will need to examine whether these alterations may indicate vulnerability for predicting the onset of Schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-105
Number of pages6
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


  • Functional MRI
  • High-risk
  • Language
  • Schizophrenia
  • Spatial working memory
  • Verbal working memory


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