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Schizophr Res. 2011 Jul;129(2-3):163-8. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2011.03.020. Epub 2011 Apr 15.

Regional contraction of brain surface area involves three large-scale networks in schizophrenia.

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Division of Psychiatry, University of Nottingham, A Floor, South Block, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, United Kingdom.


In schizophrenia, morphological changes in the cerebral cortex have been primarily investigated using volumetric or cortical thickness measurements. In healthy subjects, as the brain size increases, the surface area expands disproportionately when compared to the scaling of cortical thickness. In this structural MRI study, we investigated the changes in brain surface area in schizophrenia by constructing relative areal contraction/expansion maps showing group differences in surface area using Freesurfer software in 57 patients and 41 controls. We observed relative areal contraction affecting Default Mode Network, Central Executive Network and Salience Network, in addition to other regions in schizophrenia. We confirmed the surface area reduction across these three large-scale brain networks by undertaking further region-of-interest analysis of surface area. We also observed a significant hemispheric asymmetry in the surface area changes, with the left hemisphere showing a greater reduction in the areal contraction maps. Our findings suggest that a fundamental disturbance in cortical expansion is likely in individuals who develop schizophrenia.

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