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PhD ceremony Ms. E.J. Liemburg: Prefrontal networks in schizophrenia. Insights from neuroimaging

When:We 06-02-2013 at 16:15

PhD ceremony: Ms. E.J. Liemburg, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Prefrontal networks in schizophrenia. Insights from neuroimaging

Promotor(s): prof. A. Aleman

Faculty: Medical Sciences

The prefrontal cortex has an important leading role in brain function. It integrates incoming information and plans behavior. The prefrontal cortex operates within brain networks, as information is collected from all parts of the brain, and newly planned behavior is redirected to all parts of the brain. Different brain networks exist, which show slow fluctuations in fMRI signal during resting state. These fluctuations possibly represent intrinsic neural activity that is related to cognitive functions.

Dysfunction of the prefrontal networks may lead to disorders in which cognitive functions are impaired, such as schizophrenia. This thesis investigates different cognitive functions in relation to prefrontal network function in patients with schizophrenia. Prefrontal language networks indeed show altered function in schizophrenia patients. Moreover, patients with poor insight in their disease, and healthy persons with impaired emotion processing capacities, show decreased connectivity in a network involved in self-processing.

Specific focus is also given to negative symptoms which may originate from impaired prefrontal function. Findings in this thesis suggest that prefrontal activation increases following treatment with newer antipsychotics, but symptoms may not improve concurrently. Moreover, negative symptoms may consist of different subgroups, and only specific symptoms may improve from treatment. These findings may encourage research on better symptom definitions, which in turn could act as a starting point for neuroimaging research and development of novel treatment options.

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