BACKGROUND: Region of interest studies have identified a number of structure-cognition associations in schizophrenia and revealed alterations in structure-cognition relationship in this population. METHODS: We examined the relationship of structural brain alterations, identified using voxel-based morphometry, to cognitive deficits in 45 schizophrenia patients relative to 43 healthy control subjects and tested the hypothesis that structure-cognition relationship is altered in schizophrenia. RESULTS: Patients had smaller total brain, gray matter, and white matter volumes. Regional alterations were left-hemisphere specific, including: gray matter reduction of inferior frontal, lingual, and anterior superior temporal gyri; white matter reduction of posterior and occipital lobes; and gray matter increase of the putamen and the precuneus. Smaller whole brain and gray matter volumes were associated with lower premorbid intelligence quotient (IQ) and poorer performance on IQ-dependent cognitive measures in patients and to a similar extent in control subjects. Larger precuneus was associated with better immediate verbal memory in patients, whereas verbal and nonverbal memory were positively associated with inferior frontal gyrus volume in control subjects. Smaller occipital white matter volume was associated with slower information processing speed in patients but not in control subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Regional volume alterations are associated with specific cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Some structure-cognition relationships differentiate this population from healthy control subjects.
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