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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2017 Jan;51(1):42-54. doi: 10.1177/0004867416631827. Epub 2016 Jul 11.

Surface-based brain morphometry and diffusion tensor imaging in schizoaffective disorder.

Author information

1 FIDMAG Research Foundation Germanes Hospitalàries, Barcelona, Spain.
2 Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, CIBERSAM, Madrid, Spain.
3 Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
4 School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
5 ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
6 Departament de Psiquiatria i Medicina Legal, Doctorat de Psiquiatria i Psicologia Clínica, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
7 Benito Menni CASM, Sant Boi de Llobregat, Spain.
8 Department of Radiology, Hospital San Juan de Déu, Barcelona, Spain.



The profile of grey matter abnormalities and related white-matter pathology in schizoaffective disorder has only been studied to a limited extent. The aim of this study was to identify grey- and white-matter abnormalities in patients with schizoaffective disorder using complementary structural imaging techniques.


Forty-five patients meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition criteria and Research Diagnostic Criteria for schizoaffective disorder and 45 matched healthy controls underwent structural-T1 and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging to enable surface-based brain morphometry and diffusion tensor imaging analyses. Analyses were conducted to determine group differences in cortical volume, cortical thickness and surface area, as well as in fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity.


At a threshold of p = 0.05 corrected, all measures revealed significant differences between patients and controls at the group level. Spatial overlap of abnormalities was observed across the various structural neuroimaging measures. In grey matter, patients with schizoaffective disorder showed abnormalities in the frontal and temporal lobes, striatum, fusiform, cuneus, precuneus, lingual and limbic regions. White-matter abnormalities were identified in tracts connecting these areas, including the corpus callosum, superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, anterior thalamic radiation, uncinate fasciculus and cingulum bundle.


The spatial overlap of abnormalities across the different imaging techniques suggests widespread and consistent brain pathology in schizoaffective disorder. The abnormalities were mainly detected in areas that have commonly been reported to be abnormal in schizophrenia, and to some extent in bipolar disorder, which may explain the clinical and aetiological overlap in these disorders.


Magnetic resonance imaging; cortical thickness; diffusion tensor imaging; grey and white matter; schizoaffective disorder

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