In the triple-network model, the salience network (SN) plays a crucial role in switching between the default-mode network (DMN) and the central executive network (CEN). Aberrant patterns of triple-network connectivity have been reported in schizophrenia patients, while findings have been less consistent for patients in the early stages of psychotic disorders. Thus, the present study examined the connectivity among the SN, DMN, and CEN in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients and individuals at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis.
Thirty-nine patients with FEP, 78 patients with CHR for psychosis, and 110 healthy controls (HCs) underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. We compared the SN, DMN, and CEN connectivity patterns of the three groups. The role of the SN in networks with significant connectivity differences was examined by mediation analysis.
FEP patients showed lower SN-DMN and SN-CEN (cluster-level F=5.83, false discovery rate [FDR] corrected-p=0.001) connectivity than HCs. There was lower SN-DMN connectivity (cluster-level F=3.06, FDR corrected-p=0.053) at a trend level in CHR subjects compared to HCs. Between HCs and FEP patients, mediation analysis showed that SN-DMN connectivity was a mediator between group and SN-CEN connectivity. Additionally, SN-CEN connectivity functioned as a mediator between group and SN-DMN connectivity.
Aberrant connectivity between the SN and DMN/CEN suggests disrupted network switching in FEP patients, although CHR subjects showed trend-level SN-DMN dysconnectivity. Our findings suggest that dysfunctional triple-network dynamics centered on the SN can appear in patients in the early stages of psychotic disorders.