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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003 Oct;60(10):983-91.

Magnetic resonance imaging of mediodorsal, pulvinar, and centromedian nuclei of the thalamus in patients with schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.



Postmortem and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data have suggested volume reductions in the mediodorsal (MDN) and pulvinar nuclei (PUL) of the thalamus. The centromedian nucleus (CMN), important in attention and arousal, has not been previously studied with MRI.


A sample of 41 patients with schizophrenia (32 men and 9 women) and 60 healthy volunteers (45 men and 15 women) underwent assessment with high-resolution 1.2-mm thick anatomical MRI. Images were differentiated to enhance the edges and outline of the whole thalamus, and the MDN, PUL, and CMN were outlined on all slices by a tracer masked to diagnostic status.


Significantly smaller volumes of the MDN and PUL were found in patients with schizophrenia compared with controls. Volume relative to brain size was reduced in all 3 nuclei; differences in relative reduction did not differ among the nuclei. The remainder of the thalamic volume (whole thalamus minus the volume of the 3 delineated nuclei) was not different between schizophrenic patients and controls, indicating that the volume reduction was specific to these nuclei. Volume relative to brain size was reduced in all 3 nuclei and remained significant when only patients who had never been exposed to neuroleptic medication (n = 15) were considered. For the MDN, women had larger relative volumes than men among controls, but men had larger volumes than women among schizophrenic patients.


Three association regions of the thalamus that have reciprocal connectivity to schizophrenia-associated regions of the cortex have significantly smaller volumes on MRI in patients with schizophrenia.

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