Insight does not come at random: Individual gray matter networks relate to clinical and cognitive insight in schizophrenia

Daouia I. Larabi*, Jan-Bernard C. Marsman, André Aleman, Betty M. Tijms, Esther M. Opmeer, Gerdina H. M. Pijnenborg, Lisette van der Meer, Marie-José van Tol, Branislava Ćurčić-Blake

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Impaired clinical and cognitive insight are prevalent in schizophrenia and relate to poorer outcome. Good insight has been suggested to depend on social cognitive and metacognitive abilities requiring global integration of brain signals. Impaired insight has been related to numerous focal gray matter (GM) abnormalities distributed across the brain suggesting dysconnectivity at the global level. In this study, we test whether global integration deficiencies reflected in gray matter network connectivity underlie individual variations in insight. Methods: We used graph theory to examine whether individual GM-network metrics relate to insight in patients with a psychotic disorder (n = 114). Clinical insight was measured with the Schedule for the Assessment of Insight–Expanded and item G12 of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, and cognitive insight with the Beck Cognitive Insight Scale. Individual GM-similarity networks were created from GM-segmentations of T1-weighted MRI-scans. Graph metrics were calculated using the Brain Connectivity Toolbox. Results: Networks of schizophrenia patients with poorer clinical insight showed less segregation (i.e. clustering coefficient) into specialized subnetworks at the global level. Schizophrenia patients with poorer cognitive insight showed both less segregation and higher connectedness (i.e. lower path length) of their brain networks, making their network topology more “random”. Conclusions: Our findings suggest less segregated processing of information in patients with poorer cognitive and clinical insight, in addition to higher connectedness in patients with poorer cognitive insight. The ability to take a critical perspective on one's symptoms (clinical insight) or views (cognitive insight) might depend especially on segregated specialized processing within distinct subnetworks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110251
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2021

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