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Schizophr Bull. 2001;27(3):443-55.

Studies of brain and cognitive maturation through childhood and adolescence: a strategy for testing neurodevelopmental hypotheses.

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  • 1Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Although neurodevelopmental models of schizophrenia are now widely accepted, there is minimal direct human evidence of dysmaturation in schizophrenia to support this theory. This is especially the case regarding maturational changes during late childhood and adolescence, which immediately precede the typical age of onset of the disorder. By integrating new noninvasive methods of functional magnetic resonance imaging with techniques of developmental cognitive neuroscience, it is now possible to begin systematic research programs to directly test hypotheses of neurodevelopmental abnormalities in schizophrenia. In this article, we describe strategies for characterizing developmental changes taking place during the critical period of adolescence that can elucidate dysmaturation processes in schizophrenia. We emphasize the need for studies characterizing normal development before examining at-risk or clinical populations, and the potential value of using neurobehavioral and neuroimaging approaches to directly characterize the dysmaturation associated with schizophrenia.

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