Altered causal coupling pathways within the central-autonomic-network in patients suffering from schizophrenia

The multivariate analysis of coupling pathways within physiological (sub)systems focusing on identifying healthy and diseased conditions. In this study, we investigated a part of the central-autonomic-network (CAN) in 17 patients suffering from schizophrenia (SZO) compared to 17 age–gender matched healthy controls (CON) applying linear and nonlinear causal coupling approaches (normalized short time partial directed coherence, multivariate transfer entropy). Therefore, from all subjects continuous heart rate (successive beat-to-beat intervals, BBI), synchronized maximum successive systolic blood pressure amplitudes (SYS), synchronized calibrated respiratory inductive plethysmography signal (respiratory frequency, RESP), and the power PEEG of frontal EEG activity were investigated for 15 min under resting conditions. The CAN revealed a bidirectional coupling structure, with central driving towards blood pressure (SYS), and respiratory driving towards PEEG. The central-cardiac, central-vascular, and central-respiratory couplings are more dominated by linear regulatory mechanisms than nonlinear ones. The CAN showed significantly weaker nonlinear central-cardiovascular and central-cardiorespiratory coupling pathways, and significantly stronger linear central influence on the vascular system, and on the other hand significantly stronger linear respiratory and cardiac influences on central activity in SZO compared to CON, and thus, providing better understanding of the interrelationship of central and autonomic regulatory mechanisms in schizophrenia might be useful as a biomarker of this disease


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