Schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of the population and is associated with reductions in brain volume, but when these are first evident is unknown. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has demonstrated abnormalities of brain structure, particularly of the temporal lobes, in schizophrenia. A study of brain structure in individuals destined to develop schizophrenia, before they do so, is crucial to understanding the illness. We used Voxel Based Morphometry (VBM) to map changes in Grey Matter Density (GMD) in 65 young adults at high risk of schizophrenia, for familial reasons, and 19 healthy young adults, over a period of approximately 2 years. All subjects were anti-psychotic naive at both scans. No increases in GMD were found in any of the groups. Within the high-risk group significant declines in GMD were found in the temporal lobes, the right frontal lobe and right parietal lobe. In the control group a decline was found in the right gyrus rectus. No significant differences over time were found between any of the groups. Those individuals at high risk who had transient or isolated psychotic symptoms showed a different spatial pattern of reductions in GMD than those who did not in within group comparisons. In addition, those individuals at high risk who later developed schizophrenia also showed a different spatial pattern of reductions in GMD in the left temporal lobe and right cerebellum, from 2 to 3 years before they were diagnosed. These particular reductions may therefore be able to predict the later onset of schizophrenia.
- Brain Mapping
- Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Schizophrenic Psychology
- Temporal Lobe