Effect of antipsychotics on community structure in functional brain networks

31 May 2018  ·  Ryan Flanagan, Lucas Lacasa, Emma K. Towlson, Sang Hoon Lee, Mason A. Porter ·

Schizophrenia, a mental disorder that is characterized by abnormal social behavior and failure to distinguish one's own thoughts and ideas from reality, has been associated with structural abnormalities in the architecture of functional brain networks. Using various methods from network analysis, we examine the effect of two classical therapeutic antipsychotics --- Aripiprazole and Sulpiride --- on the structure of functional brain networks of healthy controls and patients who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. We compare the community structures of functional brain networks of different individuals using mesoscopic response functions, which measure how community structure changes across different scales of a network. We are able to do a reasonably good job of distinguishing patients from controls, and we are most successful at this task on people who have been treated with Aripiprazole. We demonstrate that this increased separation between patients and controls is related only to a change in the control group, as the functional brain networks of the patient group appear to be predominantly unaffected by this drug. This suggests that Aripiprazole has a significant and measurable effect on community structure in healthy individuals but not in individuals who are diagnosed with schizophrenia. In contrast, we find for individuals are given the drug Sulpiride that it is more difficult to separate the networks of patients from those of controls. Overall, we observe differences in the effects of the drugs (and a placebo) on community structure in patients and controls and also that this effect differs across groups. We thereby demonstrate that different types of antipsychotic drugs selectively affect mesoscale structures of brain networks, providing support that mesoscale structures such as communities are meaningful functional units in the brain.

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