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Schizophr Res. 2013 Sep;149(1-3):149-55. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2013.06.025. Epub 2013 Jul 4.

Effects of eight weeks of atypical antipsychotic treatment on middle frontal thickness in drug-naïve first-episode psychosis patients.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada.


Atypical antipsychotic medications generally maintain or increase gray matter amount and functioning. First-episode psychosis patients have lower gray matter volume in the middle frontal gyrus, as well as worse performance on spatial working memory tasks compared to controls. This study investigated the effects of short-term four- and eight-week atypical treatment on middle frontal thickness and spatial working memory in first-episode psychosis patients. Nineteen drug-naïve first-episode psychosis patients treated with risperidone or quetiapine and 26 controls completed structural magnetic resonance imaging, a spatial working memory task, and clinical assessment at three intervals (baseline, four weeks, and eight weeks; all patients and 23 controls completed all three assessments). Caudal and rostral middle frontal thicknesses were measured using the automated program Freesurfer. Positive, negative, and general symptoms of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) decreased significantly in patients, with most of the change occurring in the first four weeks of treatment. Patients demonstrated an increase in rostral middle frontal thickness over eight weeks of treatment compared to controls. There was a medium effect size relationship between reduction in negative symptoms at four and eight weeks, and a change in rostral middle frontal thickness over eight weeks. No changes were found in spatial working memory ability. Short-term atypical treatment with risperidone or quetiapine can increase prefrontal cortical thickness in psychosis. These findings are notable given the role of the rostral middle frontal region in cognition and the relationship between better cognitive functioning and better functional outcome in psychosis.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Cortical thickness; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); Risperidone; Schizophrenia; Working memory

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