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Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Nov;157(11):1829-34.

Features of structural brain abnormality detected in first-episode psychosis.

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Section of Cognitive Psychopharmacology, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK.



Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies that focus on first-episode psychosis avoid some common confounds, such as chronicity of illness, treatment effects, and long-term substance abuse. However, such studies may select subjects with poor short-term treatment response or outcome. In this study, the authors focus on structural brain abnormalities in never or minimally treated patients who underwent MRI scanning early in their first episode of psychosis.


The authors examined 37 patients (13 medication naive, 24 previously treated) who were experiencing their first episode of psychosis; the mean duration of symptoms was short (31 weeks). These patients were comparable in age, gender, handedness, ethnicity, and parental socioeconomic status to a group of 25 healthy comparison subjects. A three-dimensional, inversion recovery prepared, fast spoiled gradient/recall in the steady state scan of the whole brain that used 1.5-mm contiguous sections was performed to acquire a T(1)-weighted data set. Human ratings of volumetric measurement of brain structures were performed with stereological techniques on three-dimensional reconstructed MRIs.


The patient group had significant deficits in cortical gray matter, temporal lobe gray matter, and whole brain volume as well as significant enlargement of the lateral and third ventricles. Structural deviations were found in both treatment-naive and minimally treated subjects. No relationships were found between any brain matter volumes and positive or negative symptoms.


Structural brain abnormalities were distributed throughout the cortex with particular decrement evident in gray matter. This feature is consistent with altered cell structure and disturbed neuronal connectivity, which accounts for the functional abnormality of psychosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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