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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Apr;33(5):976-84. Epub 2007 Jun 20.

Clinical and neuropsychological correlates of white matter abnormalities in recent onset schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry Research, The Zucker Hillside Hospital, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Glen Oaks, NY 11004, USA. szeszko@lij.ed


The objective of this study was to investigate the clinical and neuropsychological correlates of white matter abnormalities in patients with schizophrenia studied early in the course of illness. A total of 33 (21 male/12 female) patients with recent onset schizophrenia and 30 (18 male/12 female) healthy volunteers completed structural and diffusion tensor imaging exams. Patients also received clinical and neuropsychological assessments. Fractional anisotropy (FA) maps were compared between groups in the white matter using a voxelwise analysis following intersubject registration to Talairach space and correlated with functional indices. Compared to healthy volunteers, patients demonstrated significantly (p<0.001, cluster size >or=100) lower FA within temporal lobe white matter regions corresponding approximately to the right and left uncinate fasciculus, left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and left superior longitudinal fasciculus. There were no areas of significantly higher FA in patients compared to healthy volunteers. Lower FA in the bilateral uncinate fasciculus correlated significantly with greater severity of negative symptoms (alogia and affective flattening), and worse verbal learning/memory functioning. In addition, higher FA in the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus correlated significantly with greater severity of delusions and hallucinations. White matter abnormalities are evident in patients with schizophrenia early in the course of illness, appearing most robust in left temporal regions. These abnormalities have clinical and neuropsychological correlates, which may be useful in further characterizing structure-function relations in schizophrenia and constraining neurobiological models of the disorder.

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