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Positive relation between arcuate fasciculus white matter fiber structure and severity of auditory hallucinations: A DTI tractography study

By Liv E. Falkenberg, René Westerhausen, Erik Johnsen, Rune Kroken, Else-Marie Løberg, Justyna Beresniewicz, Katarzyna Kazimierczak, Kristiina Kompus, Lars Ersland, Kenneth Hugdahl

Posted 27 Sep 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/784942

The arcuate fasciculus (AF) has been implicated in the pathology behind schizophrenia and auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs). White matter tracts forming the arcuate fasciculus can be quantified and visualized using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography. Although there have been a number of studies on this topic, the results have been conflicting. Studying the underlying white matter structure of the AF could shed light on functional connectivity between temporal and frontal language areas in AVHs. The participants were 66 patients with a schizophrenia diagnosis, where AVHs were defined from the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), and compared with a healthy control group. DTI was performed on a 3T MR scanner, and tensor estimation was done using deterministic streamline tractography. Statistical analysis of the data showed significantly longer tracts along the AF in patients with severe and frequent AVHs, as well as an overall significant asymmetry with longer fibers on the left side. In addition, there were significant positive correlations between PANSS scores and tract length, tract volume, and number of streamlines for the posterior AF segment on the left side. It is concluded that the present structural results complement previous functional findings of fronto-temporal connectivity in AVH patients.

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