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Lancet. 1997 Jun 14;349(9067):1735-9.

Correlation of positive symptoms exclusively to hyperperfusion or hypoperfusion of cerebral cortex in never-treated schizophrenics.

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  • 1Department of Nuclear Medicine, Aachen University of Technology, Germany.



Studies of schizophrenia by single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) have shown both regional cerebral hyperperfusion and hypoperfusion. The aim of this study was to examine the inter-relations between regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF), psychopathology, and effects of neuroleptic therapy.


24 never-treated patients with acute schizophrenia were examined with hexamethylpropyleneamine-oxime brain SPECT and assessed psychopathologically according to the positive and negative syndrome scale; they were studied again after neuroleptic treatment and psychopathological remission. rCBF values that deviated from those of 20 controls by more than 2 SD were regarded as abnormal.


Both hyperperfused and hypoperfused patterns were found among schizophrenia patients during acute illness. The seven positive symptoms on the symptom scale showed different correlations with rCBF: formal thought disorders and grandiosity correlated positively (and strongly) with bifrontal and bitemporal rCBF; delusions, hallucinations, and distrust correlated negatively (and strongly) with cingulate, left thalamic, left frontal, and left temporal rCBF. Stereotyped ideas as a negative symptom correlated negatively (and strongly) with left frontal, cingulate, left temporal, and left parietal rCBF. After neuroleptic treatment (and reduction of positive symptoms), only negative symptoms correlated exclusively with bifrontal, bitemporal, cingulate, basal ganglia, and thalamic hypoperfusion.


Different positive symptoms are accompanied by different rCBF values--some related to hyperperfusion, others to hypoperfusion. This finding may help to explain observed inconsistencies of perfusion patterns in drug-naïve schizophrenics.

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