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Psychiatry Res. 2007 Apr 15;154(3):209-19. Epub 2007 Feb 22.

Volume reduction of the left planum temporale gray matter associated with long duration of untreated psychosis in schizophrenia: a preliminary report.

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Department of Neuropsychiatry, University of Toyama, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama 930-0194, Japan.


A longer duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) in schizophrenia is reported to lead to a poorer clinical outcome, possibly reflecting a neurodegenerative process after the onset of overt psychosis. However, the effect of DUP on brain morphology in schizophrenia is still poorly understood. In this study, we used magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the relation between DUP and volumetric measurements for the superior temporal sub-regions (Heschl's gyrus, planum temporale, and caudal superior temporal gyrus), the medial temporal lobe structures (hippocampus and amygdala), and the frontal lobe regions (prefrontal area and anterior cingulate gyrus) in a sample of 38 schizophrenia patients (20 males and 18 females) whose illness duration was less than five years. We found a significant negative correlation between DUP and the volume of gray matter in the left planum temporale even after controlling for age, age at illness onset, and duration and dosage of neuroleptic medication. There was no such correlation for the other brain regions including each sub-region of the prefrontal cortex (the superior frontal gyrus, middle frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, ventral medial prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and straight gyrus). When subjects were divided into two groups around the median DUP, the long-DUP group had a significantly smaller planum temporale gray matter than the short-DUP group. These findings may reflect a progressive pathological process in the gray matter of the left planum temporale during the initial untreated phase of schizophrenia, whereas abnormalities in the medial temporal regions might be, as has been suggested from previous longitudinal findings, relatively static at least during the early course of the illness.

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