Background: Cigarette smoking is highly prevalent in schizophrenia and is one of the main factors contributing to the significantly decreased life expectancy in this population. Schizophrenia smokers, compared to their counterparts with no comorbid psychiatric disorder, are largely unaware and indifferent to the long-term negative consequences of cigarette smoking. The objective of this study was to determine, for the first time, if these meta-cognitive deficits are associated with neuro-functional alterations in schizophrenia smokers. Methods: Twenty-four smokers with no psychiatric disorder and 21 smokers with schizophrenia (DSM-IV criteria) were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging and exposed to anti-smoking images. Granger causality analyses were used to examine the effective connectivity between brain regions found to be significantly activated. Results: Across groups, potent activations were observed in the left ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex, the left amygdala (AMG), and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC). Using the dmPFC as a seed region, we found an abnormal negative connectivity from the dmPFC to the AMG in schizophrenia smokers during the viewing of anti-smoking stimuli. This abnormal connectivity was not present during the viewing of aversive stimuli unrelated to tobacco. Discussion: Given the well-established roles of the dmPFC in social cognition and of the AMG in emotional processing, our results suggest that the relative indifference of schizophrenia smokers regarding the negative consequences of tobacco smoking could be explained by a cognitive-affective dissonance.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health