Sarah E Morgan
Profile Url: sarah-e-morgan
Researcher at University of Cambridge
Network Neuroscience, 2018-01-16
We present a low-dimensional morphospace of fMRI brain networks, where axes are defined in a data-driven manner based on the network motifs. The morphospace allows us to identify the key variations in healthy fMRI networks in terms of their underlying motifs and we observe that two principal components (PCs) can account for 97% of the motif variability. The first PC corresponds to the small-world axis and correlates strongly with the networks' global efficiency. There is also some evidence that PC1 correlates with the average length of the 5% of longest edges in the network. Hence this axis represents the trade-off between the cost of long distance edges and their topological benefits. The second PC correlates with the networks' assortativity. Finally, we show that the economical clustering generative model proposed by Vértes et al. can approximately reproduce the motif PC space of the real fMRI brain networks, in contrast to other generative models. Overall, the motif morphospace provides a powerful way to visualise the relationships between network properties and to study the driving forces behind the topology of fMRI brain networks.
Biological Psychiatry, 2019-12-13
Background Genetic risk is thought to drive clinical variation on a spectrum of schizophrenia-like traits but the underlying changes in brain structure that mechanistically link genomic variation to schizotypal experience and behaviour are unclear. Methods We assessed schizotypy using a self-reported questionnaire, and measured magnetization transfer (MT), as a putative micro-structural MRI marker of intra-cortical myelination, in 68 brain regions, in 248 healthy young people (aged 14-25 years). We used normative adult brain gene expression data, and partial least squares (PLS) analysis, to find the weighted gene expression pattern that was most co-located with the cortical map of schizotypy-related magnetization (SRM). Results Magnetization was significantly correlated with schizotypy in bilateral posterior cingulate cortex and precuneus (and for disorganized schizotypy also in medial prefrontal cortex; all FDR-corrected P < 0.05), which are regions of the default mode network specialized for social and memory functions. The genes most positively weighted on the whole genome expression map co-located with SRM were enriched for genes that were significantly down-regulated in two prior case-control histological studies of brain gene expression in schizophrenia. Conversely, the most negatively weighted genes were enriched for genes that were transcriptionally up-regulated in schizophrenia. Positively weighted (down-regulated) genes were enriched for neuronal, specifically inter-neuronal, affiliations and coded a network of proteins comprising a few highly interactive “hubs” such as parvalbumin and calmodulin. Conclusions Microstructural MRI maps of intracortical magnetization can be linked to both the behavioural traits of schizotypy and to prior histological data on dysregulated gene expression in schizophrenia.
Recent work has suggested that disorganised speech might be a powerful predictor of later psychotic illness in clinical high risk subjects. To that end, several automated measures to quantify disorganisation of transcribed speech have been proposed. However, it remains unclear which measures are most predictive of psychosis-onset, how different measures relate to each other and what the best strategies are to elicit disorganised speech from participants. Here, we assessed the ability of twelve automated Natural Language Processing markers to differentiate transcribed speech excerpts from subjects at clinical high risk for psychosis (N=25), first episode psychosis patients (N=16) and healthy control subjects (N=13; N=54 in total). In-line with previous work, several of these measures showed significant differences between groups, including semantic coherence and speech graph connectivity. We also proposed two additional measures of repetition and whether speech was on topic, the latter of which exhibited significant group differences and outperformed the prior, related measure of tangentiality. Most measures examined were only weakly related to each other, suggesting they provide complementary information and that combining different measures could provide additional power to predict the onset of psychotic illness. Finally, we compared the ability of transcribed speech generated using different tasks to differentiate the groups. Speech generated from picture descriptions of the Thematic Apperception Test and a story re-telling task outperformed free speech, suggesting that choice of speech generation method may be an important consideration. Overall, quantitative speech markers represent a promising direction for future diagnostic applications for psychosis risk.
Neurodevelopmental disorders are highly heritable and associated with spatially-selective disruptions of brain anatomy. The logic that translates genetic risks into spatially patterned brain vulnerabilities remains unclear but is a fundamental question in disease pathogenesis. Here, we approach this question by integrating (i) in vivo neuroimaging data from patient subgroups with known causal genomic copy number variations (CNVs), and (ii) bulk and single-cell gene expression data from healthy cortex. First, for each of six different CNV disorders, we show that spatial patterns of cortical anatomy change in youth are correlated with spatial patterns of expression for CNV region genes in bulk cortical tissue from typically-developing adults. Next, by transforming normative bulk-tissue cortical expression data into cell-type expression maps, we further link each disorder’s anatomical change map to specific cell classes and specific CNV-region genes that these cells express. Finally, we establish convergent validity of this “transcriptional vulnerability model” by inter-relating patient neuroimaging data with measures of altered gene expression in both brain and blood-derived patient tissue. Our work clarifies general biological principles that govern the mapping of genetic risks onto regional brain disruption in neurodevelopmental disorders. We present new methods that can harness these principles to screen for potential cellular and molecular determinants of disease from readily available patient neuroimaging data.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019-04-19
Schizophrenia has been conceived as a disorder of brain connectivity but it is unclear how this network phenotype is related to the emerging genetics. We used morphometric similarity analysis of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data as a marker of inter-areal cortical connectivity in three prior case-control studies of psychosis: in total, N=185 cases and N=227 controls. Psychosis was associated with globally reduced morphometric similarity (MS) in all 3 studies. There was also a replicable pattern of case-control differences in regional MS which was significantly reduced in patients in frontal and temporal cortical areas, but increased in parietal cortex. Using prior brain-wide gene expression data, we found that the cortical map of case-control differences in MS was spatially correlated with cortical expression of a weighted combination of genes enriched for neurobiologically relevant ontology terms and pathways. In addition, genes that were normally over-expressed in cortical areas with reduced MS were significantly up-regulated in a prior post mortem study of schizophrenia. We propose that this combination of neuroimaging and transcriptional data provides new insight into how previously implicated genes and proteins, as well as a number of unreported proteins in their vicinity on the protein interaction network, may interact to drive structural brain network changes in schizophrenia.