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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Feb 15;32(2):531-8. Epub 2007 Oct 25.

Investigating the neuropsychological and neuroanatomical changes that occur over the first 2-3 years of illness in patients with first-episode schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW, Australia. lisa.zipparo@ozemail.com.au



This study explored the concurrent courses of the neuroanatomical and neuropsychological changes that occurred over the first 2-3 years of illness in patients with first-episode schizophrenia (FES).


Fifty-two patients with FES underwent neuropsychological testing and a structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) scan within three months of their first presentation to mental health services with psychotic symptoms (time1). Patients' cognitive performance was evaluated via an extensive neuropsychological test battery, which assessed 9 cognitive domains. Of the 52 patients at time1, 32 returned 2-3 years later (time2) for follow-up neuropsychological testing, and 20 of these also underwent follow-up sMRI. MR images were preprocessed in SPM99. Grey matter volumes of patients' whole-brain, frontal lobes and temporal lobes were calculated by convolving the preprocessed images with manually-drawn binary masks.


Patients exhibited longitudinal improvements in full-scale IQ, performance IQ and visual memory. In contrast, concurrent reductions in grey matter were observed for the whole-brain (3% reduction) and the frontal lobe (3.65% reduction). Furthermore, the extent of patients' whole-brain and frontal-lobe grey matter changes were positively correlated with longitudinal changes in verbal learning and memory.


The results of this study suggest that while the early stages of schizophrenia are associated with a mild improvement in patients' overall cognitive functioning, they are also associated with progressive grey matter atrophy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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