Delusions in schizophrenia are false beliefs that are assigned certainty and not afforded the scrutiny that normally gives rise to doubt, even under conditions of weak evidence. The goal of the current functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study is to identify the brain network(s) involved in gathering information under conditions of weak evidence, in people with schizophrenia experiencing delusions. fMRI activity during probabilistic reasoning in people with schizophrenia experiencing delusions (n = 29) compared to people with schizophrenia not experiencing delusions (n = 41) and healthy controls (n = 41) was observed when participants made judgments based on evidence that weakly or strongly matched (or mismatched) with the focal hypothesis. A brain network involved in visual attention was strongly elicited for conditions of weak evidence for healthy controls and patients not experiencing delusions, but this increase was absent for patients experiencing delusions. This suggests that the state associated with delusions manifests in fMRI as reduced activity in an early visual attentional process whereby weak evidence is incorrectly stamped as conclusive, manifestating as a feeling of fluency and misplaced certainty, short-circuiting the search for evidence, and providing a candidate neural process for ‘seeding’ delusions.
- Constrained principal component analysis
- Functional connectivity
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging
- Probabilistic reasoning