Brain morphology and schizophrenia. A magnetic resonance imaging study of limbic, prefrontal cortex, and caudate structures.
We used magnetic resonance imaging to examine the morphologic characteristics of the amygdala/hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and caudate nucleus in 29 healthy volunteers matched for age, gender, and head of household socioeconomic status and 44 patients with chronic schizophrenia. Total volumes of these structures were determined from 3-mm contiguous coronal sections. Schizophrenic patients, compared with healthy controls, had significantly smaller right and left amygdala/hippocampal complex volumes, smaller right and left prefrontal volumes, and larger left caudate volumes. A secondary analysis revealed reductions in the right and left amygdala and the left hippocampus. In addition, prefrontal white matter, but not gray matter, was reduced in the schizophrenic patients. Moreover, the right white matter volume in schizophrenic patients was significantly related to right amygdala/hippocampal volume (r = .39), data that provide preliminary support for a hypothesis of abnormal limbic-cortical connection in schizophrenia. We studied the implications of these data for the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.