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Groningen, Netherlands

Liemburg E.J.,University of Groningen | Vercammen A.,Neuroscience Research Australia | Ter Horst G.J.,University of Groningen | Curcic-Blake B.,University of Groningen | And 3 more authors.
Schizophrenia Research | Year: 2012

Brain circuits involved in language processing have been suggested to be compromised in patients with schizophrenia. This does not only include regions subserving language production and perception, but also auditory processing and attention. We investigated resting state network connectivity of auditory, language and attention networks of patients with schizophrenia and hypothesized that patients would show reduced connectivity.Patients with schizophrenia (n = 45) and healthy controls (n = 30) underwent a resting state fMRI scan. Independent components analysis was used to identify networks of the auditory cortex, left inferior frontal language regions and the anterior cingulate region, associated with attention. The time courses of the components where correlated with each other, the correlations were transformed by a Fisher's Z transformation, and compared between groups.In patients with schizophrenia, we observed decreased connectivity between the auditory and language networks. Conversely, patients showed increased connectivity between the attention and language network compared to controls. There was no relationship with severity of symptoms such as auditory hallucinations.The decreased connectivity between auditory and language processing areas observed in schizophrenia patients is consistent with earlier research and may underlie language processing difficulties. Altered anterior cingulate connectivity in patients may be a correlate of habitual suppression of unintended speech, or of excessive attention to internally generated speech. This altered connectivity pattern appears to be present independent of symptom severity, and may be suggestive of a trait, rather than a state characteristic. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Source


Pijnenborg G.H.M.,GGZ Drenthe | Pijnenborg G.H.M.,University of Groningen | Van der Gaag M.,VU University Amsterdam | Van der Gaag M.,Parnassia Psychiatric Institute | And 4 more authors.
BMC Psychiatry | Year: 2011

Background: Insight is impaired in a majority of people with schizophrenia. Impaired insight is associated with poorer outcomes of the disorder. Based on existing literature, we developed a model that explains which processes may possibly play a role in impaired insight. This model was the starting point of the development of REFLEX: a brief psychosocial intervention to improve insight in schizophrenia. REFLEX is a 12-sessions group training, consisting of three modules of four sessions each. Modules in this intervention are: "coping with stigma", "you and your personal narrative", and "you in the present".Methods/Design: REFLEX is currently evaluated in a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Eight mental health institutions in the Netherlands participate in this evaluation. Patients are randomly assigned to either REFLEX or an active control condition, existing of cognitive remediation exercises in a group. In a subgroup of patients, fMRI scans are made before and after training in order to assess potential haemodynamic changes associated with the effects of the training.Discussion: REFLEX is one of the few interventions aiming specifically to improving insight in schizophrenia and has potential value for improving insight. Targeting insight in schizophrenia is a complex task, that comes with several methodological issues. These issues are addressed in the discussion of this paper.Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials: ISRCTN50247539. © 2011 Pijnenborg et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source


Van der Velde J.,University of Groningen | Van Tol M.-J.,University of Groningen | Goerlich-Dobre K.S.,RWTH Aachen | Gromann P.M.,VU University Amsterdam | And 6 more authors.
Cortex | Year: 2014

Alexithymia ("no words for feelings") is a psychological construct that can be divided in a cognitive and affective dimension. The cognitive dimension reflects the ability to identify, verbalize and analyze feelings, whereas the affective dimension reflects the degree to which individuals get aroused by emotional stimuli and their ability to fantasize. These two alexithymia dimensions may differentially put individuals at risk to develop psychopathology. However, their neural correlates have rarely been investigated. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether the cognitive and affective alexithymia dimension are associated with unique anatomical profiles. Structural MRI scans of 57 participants (29 males; mean age: 34) were processed using a voxel-based morphometry (VBM) - Diffeomorphic Anatomical Registration Through Exponentiated Lie algebra (DARTEL) approach. Multiple regression analyses were performed to examine the common and specific associations between gray and white matter volume and alexithymia subdimensions. The results revealed that the cognitive dimension was related to lower dorsal anterior cingulate volume. In contrast, the affective alexithymia was associated with lower gray matter volume in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and lower white matter volume in the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) near the angular gyrus. No relationship between corpus callosum volume and alexithymia was observed. These results are consistent with the idea that there are two separable neural systems underlying alexithymia. This finding might encourage future research into the link between specific alexithymia subtypes and the development of psychopathology. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source


Van Der Velde J.,University of Groningen | Swart M.,Center for Mental Healthcare | Swart M.,University of Groningen | Van Rijn S.,Leiden University | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Alexithymia is a personality construct denoting emotion processing problems. It has been suggested to encompass two dimensions: a cognitive and affective dimension. The cognitive dimension is characterized by difficulties in identifying, verbalizing and analyzing emotions, while the affective dimension reflects the level of emotional arousal and imagination. Alexithymia has been previously proposed as a risk factor for developing psychosis. More specifically, the two alexithymia dimensions might be differentially related to the vulnerability for psychosis. Therefore, we examined the two dimensions of alexithymia, measured with the BVAQ in 94 siblings of patients with schizophrenia, 52 subjects at ultra-high risk (UHR) for developing psychosis, 38 patients with schizophrenia and 109 healthy controls. The results revealed that siblings and patients had higher levels of cognitive alexithymia compared to controls. In addition, subjects at UHR for psychosis had even higher levels of cognitive alexithymia compared to the siblings. The levels of affective alexithymia in siblings and patients were equal to controls. However, UHR individuals had significantly lower levels of affective alexithymia (i.e. higher levels of emotional arousal and fantasizing) compared to controls. Alexithymia was further related to subclinical levels of negative and depressive symptoms. These findings indicate that alexithymia varies parametrically with the degree of risk for psychosis. More specifically, a type-II alexithymia pattern, with high levels of cognitive alexithymia and normal or low levels of affective alexithymia, might be a vulnerability factor for psychosis. © 2015 van der Velde et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source


De Boer M.K.,University of Groningen | Castelein S.,Center for Mental Healthcare | Castelein S.,University of Groningen | Wiersma D.,University of Groningen | And 3 more authors.
Schizophrenia Bulletin | Year: 2015

A limited number of studies have evaluated sexual functioning in patients with schizophrenia. Most patients show an interest in sex that differs little from the general population. By contrast, psychiatric symptoms, institutionalization, and psychotropic medication contribute to frequently occurring impairments in sexual functioning. Women with schizophrenia have a better social outcome, longer lasting (sexual) relationships, and more offspring than men with schizophrenia. Still, in both sexes social and interpersonal impairments limit the development of stable sexual relationships. Although patients consider sexual problems to be highly relevant, patients and clinicians not easily discuss these spontaneously, leading to an underestimation of their prevalence and contributing to decreased adherence to treatment. Studies using structured interviews or questionnaires result in many more patients reporting sexual dysfunctions. Although sexual functioning can be impaired by different factors, the use of antipsychotic medication seems to be an important factor. A comparison of different antipsychotics showed high frequencies of sexual dysfunction for risperidone and classical antipsychotics, and lower frequencies for clozapine, olanzapine, quetiapine, and aripiprazole. Postsynaptic dopamine antagonism, prolactin elevation, and a1-receptor blockade may be the most relevant factors in the pathogenesis of antipsychotic-induced sexual dysfunction. Psychosocial strategies to treat antipsychotic- induced sexual dysfunction include psychoeducation and relationship counseling. Pharmacological strategies include lowering the dose or switching to a prolactin sparing antipsychotic. Also, the addition of a dopamine agonist, aripiprazole, or a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor has shown some promising results, but evidence is currently scarce. © The Author 2015. Source

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