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Br J Psychiatry. 2000 Jan;176:52-60.

Functional anatomy of verbal fluency in people with schizophrenia and those at genetic risk. Focal dysfunction and distributed disconnectivity reappraised.

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  • 1Division of Neuroscience, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, London.



PET studies of verbal fluency in schizophrenia report a failure of 'deactivation' of left superior temporal gyrus (STG) in the presence of activation of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which deficit has been attributed to underlying 'functional disconnectivity'.


To test whether these findings provide trait-markers for schizophrenia.


We used H2(15)O PET to examine verbal fluency in 10 obligate carriers of the predisposition to schizophrenia, 10 stable patients and 10 normal controls.


We found no evidence of a failure of left STG deactivation in carriers or patients. Instead, patients failed to deactivate the precuneus relative to other groups. We found no differences in functional connectivity between left DLPFC and left STG but patients exhibited significant disconnectivity between left DLPFC and anterior cingulate cortex.


Failure of left STG 'deactivation' and left fronto-temporal disconnectivity are not consistent findings in schizophrenia; neither are they trait-markers for genetic risk. Prefrontal functional disconnectivity here may characterise the schizophrenic phenotype.

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