admin September 11, 2019

Background: Schizophrenia is characterized by self-disturbances, including impaired self-evaluation abilities and source monitoring. The cortical midline structures (e.g., medial prefrontal cortex, anterior and posterior cingulate cortex, and precuneus) and the temporoparietal junction are known to play a key role in self-related processing. In theory, self-disturbances in schizophrenia may arise from impaired activity in these regions. We performed a functional neuroimaging meta-analysis to verify this hypothesis.

Methods: A literature search was performed with PubMed and Google Scholar to identify functional neuroimaging studies examining the neural correlates of self-processing in schizophrenia, using self-other or source monitoring paradigms. Fourteen studies were retrieved, involving 245 patients and 201 controls. Using peak coordinates to recreate an effect-size map of contrast results, a standard random-effects variance weighted meta-analysis for each voxel was performed with the Seed-based d Mapping software.

Results: During self-processing, decreased activations were observed in schizophrenia patients relative to controls in the bilateral thalamus and the left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and dorso-medial prefrontal cortex. Importantly, results were homogeneous across studies, and no publication bias was observed. Sensitivity analyses revealed that results were replicable in 93–100% of studies.

Conclusion: The current results partially support the hypothesized impaired activity of cortical midline brain regions in schizophrenia during self-processing. Decreased activations were observed in the dACC and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, which are involved in cognitive control and/or salience attribution, as well as decision-making, respectively. These alterations may compromise patients’ ability to direct their attention toward themselves and/or others and to make the decision whether a certain trait applies to one’s self or to someone else. In addition, decreased activations were observed in the thalamus, which is not a core region of the default-mode network, and is involved in information integration. These thalamic alterations may compromise self-coherence in schizophrenia.

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