Cingulo-opercular Network Efficiency Mediates the Association Between Psychotic-like Experiences and Cognitive Ability in the General Population

Julia M. Sheffield, Sridhar Kandala, Gregory C. Burgess, Michael P. Harms, Deanna M. Barch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background Psychosis is hypothesized to occur on a spectrum between psychotic disorders and health in individuals. In the middle of the spectrum are individuals who endorse psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) that may not affect daily functioning or cause distress. Individuals with PLEs show alterations in both cognitive ability and functional connectivity of several brain networks, but the relationship among PLEs, cognition, and functional networks remains poorly understood. Methods We analyzed resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data, a range of neuropsychological tasks, and questions from the Achenbach Adult Self-Report in 468 individuals from the Human Connectome Project. We aimed to determine whether the global efficiency of specific functional brain networks supporting higher-order cognition (the frontoparietal network, cingulo-opercular network [CON], and default mode network [DMN]) was associated with PLEs and cognitive ability in a nonpsychiatric sample. Results A total of 21.6% of individuals in our sample endorsed at least one PLE. The PLEs were significantly negatively associated with higher-order cognitive ability, CON global efficiency, and DMN global efficiency, but not crystallized knowledge. Higher-order cognition was significantly positively associated with CON global efficiency at a significance level of p<.01. Interestingly, the association between PLEs and cognitive ability was partially mediated by CON global efficiency and, in a subset of individuals who tested negative for drugs (n = 405), the participation coefficient of the right anterior insula (a hub within the CON). Conclusions These findings suggest that CON integrity may represent a shared mechanism that confers risk for psychotic experiences and the cognitive deficits observed across the psychosis spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-506
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Cognition
  • Graph theory
  • Imaging
  • Psychosis
  • Psychotic-like experiences
  • Resting-state networks


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