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Journal Article


van der Meer L, Groenewold NA, Pijnenborg M, Aleman A. PLoS One 2013; 8(7): e67774.


Department of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands ; Department of Rehabilitation, Lentis Mental Health Care, Zuidlaren, The Netherlands.


(Copyright © 2013, Public Library of Science)






Impaired Theory of Mind (ToM) has been repeatedly reported as a feature of psychotic disorders. ToM is crucial in social interactions and for the development of social behavior. It has been suggested that reasoning about the belief of others, requires inhibition of the self-perspective. We investigated the neural correlates of self-inhibition in nineteen low psychosis prone (PP) and eighteen high PP subjects presenting with subclinical features. High PP subjects have a more than tenfold increased risk of developing a schizophrenia-spectrum disorder. Brain activation was measured with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging during a ToM task differentiating between self-perspective inhibition and belief reasoning. Furthermore, to test underlying inhibitory mechanisms, we included a stop-signal task. We predicted worse behavioral performance for high compared to low PP subjects on both tasks. Moreover, based on previous neuroimaging results, different activation patterns were expected in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) in high versus low PP subjects in self-perspective inhibition and simple response inhibition. Results showed increased activation in left IFG during self-perspective inhibition, but not during simple response inhibition, for high PP subjects as compared to low PP subjects. High and low PP subjects showed equal behavioral performance. The results suggest that at a neural level, high PP subjects need more resources for inhibiting the self-perspective, but not for simple motor response inhibition, to equal the performance of low PP subjects. This may reflect a compensatory mechanism, which may no longer be available for patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders resulting in ToM impairments.

Language: en


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