Negative symptoms may be highly treatment resistant in schizophrenia (SZ) because they are not very densely connected, according to a recent study. Less densely connected networks, however, may make treatments less likely to achieve global reductions in negative symptoms because individual domains function in isolation with little interaction. Participants included outpatients with SZ (n = 201), a bipolar disorder (BD; n=46) clinical comparison group, and healthy controls (CN; n=27) who were rated on the Brief Negative Symptom Scale. Groups were compared on macroscopic network properties to evaluate overall network connectedness, and microscopic properties to determine which domains were most central. Researchers found:
- Macroscopic analyses indicated that patients with SZ had a less densely connected negative symptom network than BD or CN groups, and that males with SZ had less densely connected networks than females.
- Microscopic analyses indicated that alogia and avolition were most central in the SZ group, whereas anhedonia was most central in BD and CN groups.
- In addition, blunted affect, alogia, and asociality were most central in females with SZ, and alogia and avolition were most central in males with SZ.
Strauss GP, Esfahlani FZ, Kirkpatrick B, et al. Network analysis reveals which negative symptom domains are most central in schizophrenia vs bipolar disorder. [Published online ahead of print January 14, 2019]. Schizophr Bull. doi:10.1093/schbul/sby168.