Formal thought disorder is related to aberrations in language-related white matter tracts in patients with schizophrenia

Marialuisa Cavelti, Stephanie Winkelbeiner, Andrea Federspiel, Sebastian Walther, Katharina Stegmayer, Stéphanie Giezendanner, Karin Laimböck, Thomas Dierks, Werner Strik, Helge Horn, Philipp Homan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This study examined the hypothesis that a fronto-temporal disconnection in the language network underpins formal thought disorder (FTD) in schizophrenia. Forty-nine patients with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder (27 with mild FTD, 22 with severe FTD) and 26 healthy controls (HC) were included. Overall psychopathology and FTD were assessed by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale and the Thought, Language, and Communication scale, respectively. White matter (WM) microstructure was analysed using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics. In patients, severity of overall FTD (TLC Sum Score) was predicted by decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) in the right superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), and severity of negative FTD (TLC Emptiness subscale) was predicted by increased FA in the left SLF and arcuate fasciculus (AF). Notably, these results were no longer significant after correction for multiple comparisons. Compared with HC, patients showed lower FA in all the investigated language-related WM tracts as well as across the whole WM skeleton. No difference in FA was found between patients with severe and patients with mild FTD. Our results are compatible with earlier studies reporting impairments in widely spread WM tracts including those related to language processing in patients with schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-50
Number of pages11
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
StatePublished - 30 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Arcuate fasciculus (AF)
  • Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)
  • Fractional anisotropy (FA)
  • inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF)
  • inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF)
  • psychosis
  • superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF)
  • uncinate fasciculus (UF)


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