Catatonia is characterized by motor, affective and behavioral abnormalities. To date, the specific role of white matter (WM) abnormalities in schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) patients with catatonia is largely unknown. In this study, diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) data were collected from 111 right-handed SSD patients and 28 healthy controls. Catatonic symptoms were examined on the Northoff Catatonia Rating Scale (NCRS). We used whole-brain tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS), tractometry (along tract statistics using TractSeg) and graph analytics (clustering coefficient—CCO, local betweenness centrality—BC) to provide a framework of specific WM microstructural abnormalities underlying catatonia in SSD. Following a categorical approach, post hoc analyses showed differences in fractional anisotrophy (FA) measured via tractometry in the corpus callosum, corticospinal tract and thalamo-premotor tract as well as increased CCO as derived by graph analytics of the right superior parietal cortex (SPC) and left caudate nucleus in catatonic patients (NCRS total score ≥ 3; n = 30) when compared to non-catatonic patients (NCRS total score = 0; n = 29). In catatonic patients according to DSM-IV-TR (n = 43), catatonic symptoms were associated with FA variations (tractometry) of the left corticospinal tract and CCO of the left orbitofrontal cortex, primary motor cortex, supplementary motor area and putamen. This study supports the notion that structural reorganization of WM bundles connecting orbitofrontal/parietal, thalamic and striatal regions contribute to catatonia in SSD patients.
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