Indexed on: 10 Nov '12Published on: 10 Nov '12Published in: Psychiatry Research
Anomalous activations of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and posterior cerebral areas have been reported in previous studies of working memory in schizophrenia. Several interpretations have been reported: e.g., neural inefficiency, the use of different strategies and differences in the functional organization of the cerebral cortex. To better understand these abnormal activations, we investigated the cerebral bases of a working memory component process, namely refreshing (i.e., thinking briefly of a just-activated representation). Fifteen patients with schizophrenia and 15 control subjects participated in this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study. Participants were told that whenever they saw a word on the screen, they had to read it silently to themselves (read and repeat conditions), and when they saw a dot, they had to think of the just-previous word (refresh condition). The refresh condition (in comparison with the read condition) was associated with significantly increased activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus and significantly decreased connectivity within the prefrontal cortex and between the prefrontal and parietal cortices in patients with schizophrenia in comparison with control subjects. These results suggest that prefrontal dysfunctions in schizophrenia might be related to a defective ability to initiate (rather than to execute) specific cognitive processes.