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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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159. Investigating neural activity during implicit theory of mind in individuals with a psychotic disorder and biological first-degree relatives

Theory of mind (ToM) impairment is well established in psychosis, and abnormalities have also been reported in relatives. Implicit ToM is a more automatic, less cognitively demanding component of ToM; explicit ToM is more thoughtful and cognitively demanding. We investigated neural correlates of implicit ToM in individuals with a psychotic disorder (IPD; n=50), first-degree relatives (REL; n=21), and controls (n=29) (data collection is ongoing). Participants completed an implicit ToM task during fMRI, wherein they viewed animations depicting shapes interacting socially (i.e., appearing to take each other’s thoughts and feelings into account) or in a physically related but non-social way (e.g., mirror movement) and indicated which type of interaction they believed was occurring. For the social minus physical contrast, IPD and REL demonstrated decreased right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) activation versus controls. Psychophysiological interactions (PPI) functional connectivity analysis using rTPJ as the seed region revealed a cluster of activation in left TPJ that was associated with rTPJ activity differently during the social versus physical condition in IPD only (group comparisons were not significant). These findings are broadly consistent with previous literature demonstrating abnormal TPJ activation during ToM in psychosis, and suggest that such abnormalities may be associated with genetic liability for psychosis.

Jerillyn Kent
University of Minnesota

Philip Burton
University of Minnesota

Scott Sponheim
Minneapolis VA Health Care System; University of Minnesota


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