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Neuroimage. 2010 Jan 1;49(1):199-204. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.07.016. Epub 2009 Jul 18.

White matter defects in first episode psychosis patients: a voxelwise analysis of diffusion tensor imaging.

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Department of Psychiatry, Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital, Avenida Valdecilla s/n, University of Cantabria, Spain.



Disruptions in white matter structure have consistently been shown in schizophrenia--but mainly in patients in whom the illness is well-established. In order to determine whether white matter abnormalities are present at illness onset, and to minimise the potentially confounding effects of chronic illness and treatment, we used diffusion tensor imaging to study a large cohort of first episode psychotic patients who were medication-naive.


Sixty two first episode patients and 54 controls matched on age, sex, years of education and laterality index underwent diffusion tensor imaging. Data were acquired on a GE Signa NVi 1.5 Tesla System. Fractional anisotropy maps were generated on a voxel-by-voxel basis. An optimized voxel-based morphometry technique was conducted with two-stage registration approach. Group differences were examined using a non-parametric statistical method.


The voxelwise analysis revealed four clusters where fractional anisotropy values were significantly lower in patients than controls. These were localised bilaterally to regions of white matter corresponding to superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculus, forceps major, anterior and superior thalamic radiation and corpus callosum.


Reductions in white matter integrity are present early in the course of the schizophrenia and localised in fascicule that connect brain regions implicated in the disorder.

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