Unique topology of language processing brain network: A systems-level biomarker of schizophrenia

Xiaobo Li, Shugao Xia, Hilary C. Bertisch, Craig A. Branch, Lynn E. DeLisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Objective: Schizophrenia is a severe and heritable brain disorder. Language impairment has been hypothesized to spur its onset and underlie the characteristic symptoms. In this study, we investigate whether altered topological pattern of the language processing brain network exists and could be a potential biomarker of schizophrenia. We hypothesized that both patients with schizophrenia and the genetic high risk population would show significantly weakened efficiencies of the network hubs for normal language processing, especially at left inferior frontal and bilateral temporal lobes. Method: Language task-based fMRI data from 21 patients with schizophrenia, 22 genetic high risk subjects and 36 controls were analyzed. Graph theoretic and post hoc analyses of the fMRI data, and correlations between the functional network features and scores of language tests were carried out. Results: Compared to controls, patients with schizophrenia and the high risk subjects showed significantly weakened network hubs in left inferior frontal and right fusiform gyri. A unique topology of super active and intercommunicating network hubs at left fusiform gyrus and right inferior/middle frontal gyri, which were associated with the behavioral language impairment was found in the patient group, compared to the high risk and control groups. Conclusions: Aberrant systems-level topology of language processing network, especially significantly weakened network hubs in left inferior frontal and right fusiform gyri, may serve as a candidate biomarker of schizophrenia. Supported by existing findings, the hyperactive left fusiform gyrus communicating with right frontal lobe might be the key neurophysiological component causing hallucinations in schizophrenia. These findings provided a new systems-level diagnostic target for the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-136
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012



  • FMRI
  • Genetic high risk
  • Graph theoretical techniques
  • Language processing network
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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