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Psychiatry Res. 2003 Sep 30;124(1):25-35.

Application of a new image analysis technique to study brain asymmetry in schizophrenia.

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  • 1Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research (POWIC), Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK.


The hypothesis that normal brain torque (i.e. rightward frontal and leftward occipital asymmetry) is anomalous in schizophrenia (Crow, 1997. Trends in Neuroscience, 20, 339-343) was tested by application of a novel image analysis technique on three-dimensional magnetic resonance images obtained in 26 adult patients with chronic schizophrenia (18 males, 8 females) and 24 controls (14 males, 10 females). Right and left cerebral hemisphere tissue was extracted via non-linear co-registration with a mask image, and maps were computed of inter-hemispheric differences in tissue volume in an array of columns of voxels orthogonal to the mid-plane (2D), and profiles of coronal slice volumes (1D). Furthermore, integration of two-dimensional column maps gave approximate lobar asymmetries, and occipital and frontal asymmetries were combined to give a volumetric measure of brain torque. Significant brain torque was revealed in male and female control and patient groups, and did not correlate with brain size. Frontal and occipital asymmetries were significantly correlated in all groups. Both frontal and occipital components of torque were significantly increased in males than females. Patients tended to have reduced torque, particularly the leftward occipital component. Furthermore, 3/26 patients (but no controls) had reversed torque (leftward frontal and rightward occipital asymmetry). Contrary to Crow's hypothesis, brain torque was not significantly reduced in patients with schizophrenia relative to controls, although reversal of torque was found in three cases. Future studies with larger sample sizes should consider sexual dimorphism and specific symptoms in relation to asymmetry.

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