Disrupted upregulation of salience network connectivity during acute stress in siblings of schizophrenia patients

Judith M C van Leeuwen, Christiaan H Vinkers, Matthijs Vink, René S Kahn, Marian Joëls, Erno J Hermans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)


BackgroundAn adaptive neural stress response is essential to adequately cope with a changing environment. It was previously argued that sympathetic/noradrenergic activity during acute stress increases salience network (SN) connectivity and reduces executive control network (ECN) connectivity in healthy controls, with opposing effects in the late aftermath of stress. Altered temporal dynamics of these networks in response to stress are thought to play a role in the development of psychopathology in vulnerable individuals.MethodsWe exposed male healthy controls (n = 40, mean age = 33.9) and unaffected siblings of schizophrenia patients (n = 39, mean age = 33.2) to the stress or control condition of the trier social stress test and subsequently investigated resting state functional connectivity of the SN and ECN directly after and 1.5 h after stress.ResultsAcute stress resulted in increased functional connectivity within the SN in healthy controls, but not in siblings (group × stress interaction p fwe < 0.05). In the late aftermath of stress, stress reduced functional connectivity within the SN in both groups. Moreover, we found increased functional connectivity between the ECN and the cerebellum in the aftermath of stress in both healthy controls and siblings of schizophrenia patients.ConclusionsThe results show profound differences between siblings of schizophrenia patients and controls during acute stress. Siblings lacked the upregulation of neural resources necessary to quickly and adequately cope with a stressor. This points to a reduced dynamic range in the sympathetic response, and may constitute a vulnerability factor for the development of psychopathology in this at-risk group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1038-1048
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological medicine
Issue number6
Early online date16 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Cortisol
  • large-scale functional brain networks
  • neuroimaging
  • resilience
  • schizophrenia
  • stress


Dive into the research topics of 'Disrupted upregulation of salience network connectivity during acute stress in siblings of schizophrenia patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this