Recent structural and functional imaging findings in schizophreniaM. A. Niznikiewicz, M. Kubicki, M. E. Shenton
Purpose of review: Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects nearly one percent of the general population and has long been a challenge for both clinicians and researchers in terms of treatment and etiology. More recently, evidence has amassed that suggests that schizophrenia is a brain disorder, and that some aspects of this disorder appear to be genetic. It has only been in the past decade, however, that adequate neuroimaging tools have become available to study brain abnormalities in schizophrenia. These technologic advances have led to a much better understanding of both structural and functional brain abnormalities in schizophrenia, and allowed construction of comprehensive theories regarding the neural underpinnings of schizophrenia. The present review provides an account of research activities in the fields of structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional MRI, and diffusion tensor imaging during the past year, dating from August 2001 to August 2002.
Recent findings: In the review we discuss MRI findings in chronic schizophrenia and in first episode schizophrenia, and we include information on family studies. We note that the two major hypotheses regarding schizophrenia (neurodevelopmental and/or neurodegenerative) provide a theoretical framework for most studies. For the functional MRI studies, we note that questions focus on identifying networks of brain regions that are abnormal and contribute to functional abnormalities.
Summary: Jointly, MRI, function MRI, and diffusion tensor imaging research suggests that schizophrenia is a disorder that impacts on several brain regions, leading most notably to abnormalities in both frontal and temporal lobes, as well as to abnormal connections between those two major structures.
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