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Am J Psychiatry. 1997 May;154(5):688-90.

Decreased left frontal lobe N-acetylaspartate in schizophrenia.

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  • 1Magnetic Resonance Unit, VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.



The authors measured N-acetylaspartate (a putative neuronal marker), using in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (1H-MRSI), in the frontal lobes of schizophrenic patients and normal subjects.


Frontal lobe 1H-MRSI was performed bilaterally on 24 medicated schizophrenic patients and 15 healthy comparison subjects. Levels of N-acetylaspartate, creatine, and choline were determined.


Relative to the comparison group, the patients with schizophrenia demonstrated significantly lower levels of N-acetylaspartate in the left frontal lobe. There was no association between level of N-acetylaspartate and duration of illness or medication dosage. No differences between groups or lateralized asymmetries in choline or creatine were noted.


This preliminary study provides support for decreased N-acetylaspartate in the left frontal lobe in schizophrenia and neuronal dysfunction in this brain region.

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