The brain functional mechanisms translating genetic risk into emotional symptoms in schizophrenia (SCZ) may include abnormal functional integration between areas key for emotion processing, such as the amygdala and the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC). Indeed, investigation of these mechanisms is also complicated by emotion processing comprising different subcomponents and by disease-associated state variables. Here, our aim was to investigate the relationship between risk for SCZ and effective connectivity between the amygdala and the LPFC during different subcomponents of emotion processing. Thus, we first characterized with dynamic causal modeling (DCM) physiological patterns of LPFC-amygdala effective connectivity in healthy controls (HC) during implicit and explicit emotion processing. Then, we compared DCM patterns in a subsample of HC, in patients with SCZ and in healthy siblings of patients (SIB), matched for demographics. Finally, we investigated in HC association of LPFC-amygdala effective connectivity with a genome-wide supported variant increasing genetic risk for SCZ and possibly relevant to emotion processing (DRD2 rs2514218). In HC, we found that a "bottom-up" amygdala-to-LPFC pattern during implicit processing and a "top-down" LPFC-to-amygdala pattern during explicit processing were the most likely directional models of effective connectivity. Differently, implicit emotion processing in SIB, SCZ, and HC homozygous for the SCZ risk rs2514218 C allele was associated with decreased probability for the "bottom-up" as well as with increased probability for the "top-down" model. These findings suggest that task-specific anomaly in the directional flow of information or disconnection between the amygdala and the LPFC is a good candidate endophenotype of SCZ.
- Journal Article