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Am J Psychiatry. 2004 May;161(5):896-902.

Abnormalities of thalamic volume and shape in schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry (Box 8134), Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.



Postmortem and neuroimaging studies of schizophrenia have reported deficits in the volume of the thalamus and its component nuclei. However, the pattern of shape change associated with such volume loss has not been investigated. In this study, alterations in thalamic volume, shape, and symmetry were compared in subjects with and without schizophrenia.


T(1)-weighted magnetic resonance scans were collected in 52 schizophrenia and 65 comparison subjects matched for age, gender, race, and parental socioeconomic status. High-dimensional (large-deformation) brain mapping was used to assess thalamic morphology.


Significant differences in thalamic volume, deformities of thalamic shape at the anterior and posterior extremes of the structure, and a significant exaggeration of thalamic asymmetry (i.e., left smaller than right) were found in the schizophrenia subjects. After covarying for total cerebral volume, the difference in thalamic volume became insignificant. When information about thalamic shape was combined with previously collected information about hippocampal shape, the discrimination between schizophrenia patients and comparison subjects was improved.


Thalamic volume was smaller than normal in schizophrenia patients, but only proportionate to reductions in reduced total cerebral volume. The presence of changes in thalamic shape and asymmetry suggest greater pathologic involvement of individual nuclei at its anterior and posterior extremes of the thalamic complex.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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