Changes in default-mode network associated with childhood trauma in schizophrenia

Maria R. Dauvermann, David Mothersill, Karolina I. Rokita, Sinead King, Laurena Holleran, Ruan Kane, Declan P. McKernan, John P. Kelly, Derek W. Morris, Aiden Corvin, Brian Hallahan, Colm McDonald, Gary Donohoe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Background: There is considerable evidence of dysconnectivity within the default-mode network (DMN) in schizophrenia, as measured during resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI). History of childhood trauma (CT) is observed at a higher frequency in schizophrenia than in the general population, but its relationship to DMN functional connectivity has yet to be investigated. Methods: CT history and rs-fMRI data were collected in 65 individuals with schizophrenia and 132 healthy controls. Seed-based functional connectivity between each of 4 a priori defined seeds of the DMN (medial prefrontal cortex, right and left lateral parietal lobes, and the posterior cingulate cortex) and all other voxels of the brain were compared across groups. Effects of CT on functional connectivity were examined using multiple regression analyses. Where significant associations were observed, regression analyses were further used to determine whether variance in behavioral measures of Theory of Mind (ToM), previously associated with DMN recruitment, were explained by these associations. Results: Seed-based analyses revealed evidence of widespread reductions in functional connectivity in patients vs controls, including between the left/right parietal lobe (LP) and multiple other regions, including the parietal operculum bilaterally. Across all subjects, increased CT scores were associated with reduced prefrontal-parietal connectivity and, in patients, with increased prefrontal-cerebellar connectivity also. These CT-associated differences in DMN connectivity also predicted variation in behavioral measures of ToM. Conclusions: These findings suggest that CT history is associated with variation in DMN connectivity during rs-fMRI in patients with schizophrenia and healthy participants, which may partly mediate associations observed between early life adversity and cognitive performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1482-1494
Number of pages13
JournalSchizophrenia bulletin
Issue number5
Early online date5 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by grants to G.D. from the European Research Council (ERC-2015-STG-677467) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI-16/ERCS/3787).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Childhood trauma
  • Default-mode network
  • Functional connectivity
  • Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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