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Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to Understand 'Negative' Symptoms of Schizophrenia

This study proposes to test the hypothesis that the medication refractory experiential (anhedonia and amotivation) and expressive deficits named 'negative symptoms' are mediated by network pathophysiology and the functional connectivity of a cerebellar-prefrontal cortical network mediates the severity of these deficits. To accomplish this participants will be recruited who are diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who demonstrate negative symptoms despite stable outpatient treatment.

Participants will undergo an initial screening session to complete informed consent and undergo baseline assessments of negative symptom severity. These assessments include reporter-based measures such as the Positive And Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) as well as quantitative tests of amotivation/anhedonia and diminished expressivity.

Participants will then undergo an MRI scan that includes structural and resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI). These rsfMRI images will be used to isolate individual resting-state networks for targeting of rTMS modulation.

Participants will then undergo five days of twice daily rTMS sessions in one of the four arms of this study.

One week after the last rTMS session, Participants will undergo follow-up MRI imaging and the same assessments described above.


Aim 1: To determine if network dysconnectivity is causally linked to negative symptom severity and if amelioration of this dysconnectivity results in reduced symptom severity. Symptom severity will be measured via both reporter-based and quantitative measures.

Aim 2: To determine if the relationship between functional connectivity and symptom severity arises from interactions between specific nodes of the default mode network (DMN): the cerebellum and DLPFC, or is the result of interactions between multiple nodes in the DMN (both cerebral and cerebellar).

Exploratory Aim: As an exploratory aim, additional genetic data will be collected which may be related to TMS efficacy. Hypothesis: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) homozygous val-allele carriers of the val66met BDNF gene will show greater response than met-carriers.