Associating Psychotic Symptoms with Altered Brain Anatomy in Psychotic Disorders Using Multidimensional Item Response Theory Models

Ana D. Stan, Carol A. Tamminga, Kihwan Han, Jong Bae Kim, Jaya Padmanabhan, Neeraj Tandon, Matthew E. Hudgens-Haney, Matcheri S. Keshavan, Brett A. Clementz, Godfrey D. Pearlson, John A. Sweeney, Robert D. Gibbons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Reduced cortical thickness has been demonstrated in psychotic disorders, but its relationship to clinical symptoms has not been established. We aimed to identify the regions throughout neocortex where clinical psychosis manifestations correlate with cortical thickness. Rather than perform a traditional correlation analysis using total scores on psychiatric rating scales, we applied multidimensional item response theory to identify a profile of psychotic symptoms that was related to a region where cortical thickness was reduced. This analysis was performed using a large population of probands with psychotic disorders (N = 865), their family members (N = 678) and healthy volunteers (N = 347), from the 5-site Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network for Intermediate Phenotypes. Regional cortical thickness from structural magnetic resonance scans was measured using FreeSurfer; individual symptoms were rated using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale, and Young Mania Rating Scale. A cluster of cortical regions whose thickness was inversely related to severity of psychosis symptoms was identified. The regions turned out to be located contiguously in a large region of heteromodal association cortex including temporal, parietal and frontal lobe regions, suggesting a cluster of contiguous neocortical regions important to psychosis expression. When we tested the relationship between reduced cortical surface area and high psychotic symptoms we found no linked regions describing a related cortical set.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2939-2947
Number of pages9
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 14 2020


  • bifactor model
  • cortical thickness
  • high-dimensional datasets
  • numerical taxonomies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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