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Schizophr Res. 1996 Oct 18;22(1):27-40.

Cortical gyral anatomy and gross brain dimensions in monozygotic twins discordant for schizophrenia.

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  • 1Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, DIRP, NIMH, NIH, Neuroscience Center at St. Elizabeth's, Washington, DC 20032, USA.



This study combines recent advances in three-dimensional neuroimaging technology and the genetic constraints inherent in monozygotic (MZ) twins to examine surface gyral anatomy and gross brain dimensions in monozygotic twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia. Results are presented and evaluated with respect to prior observations of cortical anomalies in schizophrenia and the hypothesis that schizophrenia involves cortical maldevelopment.


Three-dimensional renderings from volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of 13 MZ twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia and nine normal MZ pairs were studied. Qualitative assessments of left and right hemisphere surfaces were made by raters blind to diagnosis in an effect to identify developmental gyral abnormalities such as vertical temporal gyri or microgyria. Measurement of brain hemisphere length, area, and volume were also determined. These data were compared within discordant MZ schizophrenia pairs, within normal MZ pairs, and between matched unaffected discordant and normal MZ groups.


Raters did not identify qualitatively abnormal gyri in the schizophrenia subjects to enable distinction from their unaffected co-twins or from normal controls. Brain hemisphere volumes in the affected DS were significantly smaller bilaterally by about 3% compared with their unaffected DS co-twins, who did not differ from normals on this measure.


We were unable to confirm previous reports of vertical gyri or localized gyral thinning as being characteristic of the cortical anatomy of schizophrenia. If cortical maldevelopment is associated with schizophrenia it does not appear to disrupt gross gyral pattern formation in these ways. The quantitative results of diminished hemisphere volume and length in the twins with schizophrenia are consistent with previous reports of smaller brain size in schizophrenia. Our results suggest that this is a bilateral phenomenon that may be dependent, at least in part, on environmental factors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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