Prefrontal cortical thickness in first episode psychosis: A magnetic resonance imaging study

L. C. Wiegand, S. K. Warfield, J. J. Levitt, Y. Hirayasu, D. F. Salisbury, C. C. Dickey, S. Heckers, R. Kikinis, F. A. Jolesz, R. W. McCarley, M. E. Shenton
Biol Psychiatry
Volume 55, Number 2, Pages 131-140

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Background: Findings from postmortem studies suggest reduced prefrontal cortical thickness in schizophrenia; however, cortical thickness in first-episode schizophrenia has not been evaluated using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Methods: Prefrontal cortical thickness was measured using MRI in first-episode schizophrenia patients (n 17), first-episode affective psychosis patients (n 17), and normal control subjects (n 17); subjects were age-matched within 2 years and within a narrow age range (18 29 years). A previous study using the same subjects reported reduced prefrontal gray matter volume in first-episode schizophrenia. Manual editing was performed on those prefrontal segmentations before cortical thickness was measured.

Results: Prefrontal cortical thickness was not significantly different among groups. Prefrontal gray matter volume and thickness were, however, positively correlated in both schizophrenia and control subjects. The product of boundary complexity and thickness, an alternative measure of volume, was positively correlated with volume for all three groups. Finally, age and age at first medication were negatively correlated with prefrontal cortical thickness only in first-episode schizophrenia.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the potential usefulness of MRI for the study of cortical thickness abnormalities in schizophrenia. Correlations between cortical thickness and age and between cortical thickness and age at first medication suggest that the longer the schizophrenic process has been operative, the thinner the prefrontal cortex, although this needs confirmation in a longitudinal study.


Wiegand LC, Warfield SK, Levitt JJ, Hirayasu Y, Salisbury DF, Dickey CC, Heckers S, Kikinis R, Jolesz FA, McCarley RW, Shenton ME. Prefrontal cortical thickness in first episode psychosis: A magnetic resonance imaging study. Biol Psychiatry 2004;55(2):131-140.


Stanley Foundation, Whitaker, CIMIT, NIH/NIMH 2R01 MH01110, NIH/NIMH 2RO1 MH50740, NIH/NIMH 2RO1 MH40799, VA Merit Award. NCRR

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© 2013 Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory | Last updated 04.15.2013