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White Matter Microstructural Properties Associated with Impaired Attention in Chronic Schizophrenia: A Multi-Center Study

Highlights•Axonal integrity is decreased in the patients with schizophrenia.•Attention is impaired in the schizophrenia based on TMT and CalCAP tests.•Fiber integrity is inversely associated with attention in schizophrenia.•Integrity and attention association is pronounced in patients compared to controls.AbstractAttention as a key cognitive function is impaired in schizophrenia, interfering with the normal daily life of the patients. Previous studies on the microstructural correlates of attention in schizophrenia were limited to single fibers, did not include a control group, or did not adjust for drug dosage. In the current study, we investigated the association between microstructural properties of the white matter fibers and attention tests in 81 patients and 79 healthy controls from the Mind Clinical Imaging Consortium database. Integrity measures of superior longitudinal fasciculus, cingulum, genu, and splenium were extracted after tractography. Using an interaction model between diagnosis and microstructural properties, and adjusting for age, gender, acquisition site, education, and cumulative drug usage dose, and after correcting for family-wise error, we showed decreased integrity in the patients and a significant negative association between fractional anisotropy of the tracts and trail making test part A with a greater expected decrease in the attention per unit of decrease of integrity in the patients compared to the healthy controls. Our findings suggest that decreased integrity of the bilateral cingulum, and splenium, are independent of the cumulative drug dosage, age, gender, and site, and may underlie the impaired attention in the schizophrenia.

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