From a large clinical blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we report several interrelated findings involving transient supra-network brainwide states characterized by a saturation phenomenon we are referring to as “polarization.” These are whole-brain states in which the voxelwise-normalized BOLD (vn-BOLD) activation of a large proportion of voxels is simultaneously either very high or very low. The presence of such states during a resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI) scan is significantly anti-correlated with diagnosed schizophrenia, significantly anti-correlated with connectivity between subcortical networks and auditory, visual and sensorimotor networks and also significantly anti-correlated with contemporaneous occupancy of transient functional network connectivity states featuring broad disconnectivity or strong inhibitory connections between the default mode and other networks. Conversely, the presence of highly polarized vn-BOLD states is significantly correlated with connectivity strength between auditory, visual and sensorimotor networks and with contemporaneous occupancy of transient whole-brain patterns of strongly modularized network connectivity and diffuse hyperconnectivity. Despite their consistency with well-documented effects of schizophrenia on static and time-varying functional network connectivity, the observed relationships between polarization and network connectivity are with very few exceptions unmediated by schizophrenia diagnosis. Many differences observed between patients and controls are echoed within the patient population itself in the effect patterns of positive symptomology (e.g. hallucinations, delusions, grandiosity). Our findings highlight a particular whole-brain spatiotemporal BOLD activation phenomenon that differs markedly between healthy subjects and schizophrenia patients, one that also strongly informs time-resolved network connectivity patterns that are associated with this serious clinical disorder.
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