Involvement of cerebellar and subcortical connector hubs in schizophrenia

Maeri Yamamoto, Epifanio Bagarinao, Masanori Shimamoto, Tetsuya Iidaka, Norio Ozaki



Schizophrenia is considered a brain connectivity disorder in which functional integration within the brain fails. Central to the brain’s integrative function are connector hubs, brain regions characterized by strong connections with multiple networks. Given their critical role in functional integration, we hypothesized that connector hubs, including those located in the cerebellum and subcortical regions, are severely impaired in patients with schizophrenia.


We identified brain voxels with significant connectivity alterations in patients with schizophrenia (n = 76; men = 43) compared to healthy controls (n = 80; men = 43) across multiple large-scale resting state networks (RSNs) using a network metric called functional connectivity overlap ratio (FCOR). From these voxels, candidate connector hubs were identified and verified using seed-based connectivity analysis.


We found that most networks exhibited connectivity alterations in the patient group. Specifically, connectivity with the basal ganglia and high visual networks was severely affected over widespread brain areas in patients, affecting subcortical and cerebellar regions and the regions involved in visual and sensorimotor processing. Furthermore, we identified critical connector hubs in the cerebellum, midbrain, thalamus, insula, and calcarine with connectivity to multiple RSNs affected in the patients. FCOR values of these regions were also associated with clinical data and could classify patient and control groups with > 80 % accuracy.


These findings highlight the critical role of connector hubs, particularly those in the cerebellum and subcortical regions, in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and the potential role of FCOR as a clinical biomarker for the disorder.

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