OBJECTIVE: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of schizophrenic patients have revealed structural brain abnormalities, with low volumes of gray matter in the left posterior superior temporal gyrus and in medial temporal lobe structures. However, the specificity to schizophrenia and the roles of chronic morbidity and neuroleptic treatment in these abnormalities remain unclear. METHOD: Magnetic resonance (1.5-T) scans were obtained from 33 patients with first-episode psychosis and 18 age-matched normal comparison subjects, all right-handed. Sixteen of the patients were diagnosed with affective disorder and 17 with schizophrenia. RESULTS: Quantitative volumetric analysis showed that the patients with first-episode schizophrenia had significantly smaller gray matter volume in the left posterior superior temporal gyrus than did the patients with first-episode affective psychosis or the comparison subjects, with a significant left-less-than-right asymmetry. The schizophrenic patients also showed a smaller gray matter volume of the left posterior amygdala-hippocampal complex than the comparison subjects. Both the patients with schizophrenia and those with affective psychosis had significant left-less-than-right asymmetry of the posterior amygdala-hippocampal complex. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that temporal lobe abnormalities are present at the first hospitalization for schizophrenia and that low volume of the left posterior superior temporal gyrus gray matter is specific to schizophrenia compared with affective disorder.
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