The aim of this study was to investigate magnetic resonance images (MR) from patients with schizophrenia and healthy control subjects for difference in brain morphology with focus on subcortical brain volumes.
Method: The study compared fourteen subcortical brain structure volumes of 96 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia (n=81) or schizoaffective disorder (n=15) with 106 healthy control subjects. Volume measures were obtained using voxel-based morphometry (FreeSurfer software suite) of T1-weighted MR images.
Results: When adjusting for intracranial volume, age and gender, the hippocampus volume was smaller both on the right and left side in the patient group (p<.001) as compared with healthy controls. Pallidum was found to have an increased volume bilaterally in the patients (p<.001), and volume was positively related with disease duration and inversely with age at onset. Caudate and amygdala in the right hemisphere was larger (p<.01) and showed trend effects for being larger also in the left hemisphere. There was a trend for a larger right accumbens in the patients.
First generation neuroleptic medication affected basal ganglia volumes differently than second generation neuroleptics with stronger effects on putamen but also on pallidum volume increase.
Conclusions: Schizophrenia has brain morphological correlates, and this study confirms that hippocampus is reduced in patients with schizophrenia. This study also presents an interesting subcortical brain region volume difference regarding medication.