Shape of caudate nucleus and its cognitive correlates in neuroleptic-naive schizotypal personality disorder

Levitt JJ, Westin CF, Nestor PG, Estepar RS, Dickey CC, Voglmaier MM, Seidman LJ, Kikinis R, Jolesz FA, McCarley RW, Shenton ME

Biol. Psychiatry 2004 Jan;55(2):177-84

PMID: 14732598


BACKGROUND: We measured the shape of the head of the caudate nucleus with a new approach based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in schizotypal personality disorder (SPD) subjects in whom we previously reported decreased caudate nucleus volume. We believe MRI shape analysis complements traditional MRI volume measurements.

METHODS: Magnetic resonance imaging scans were used to measure the shape of the caudate nucleus in 15 right-handed male subjects with SPD, who had no prior neuroleptic exposure, and in 14 matched normal comparison subjects. With MRI processing tools, we measured the head of the caudate nucleus using a shape index, which measured how much a given shape deviates from a sphere.

RESULTS: In relation to comparison subjects, neuroleptic never-medicated SPD subjects had significantly higher (more “edgy”) head of the caudate shape index scores, lateralized to the right side. Additionally, for SPD subjects, higher right and left head of the caudate SI scores correlated significantly with poorer neuropsychological performance on tasks of visuospatial memory and auditory/verbal working memory, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: These data confirm the value of measuring shape, as well as volume, of brain regions of interest and support the association of intrinsic pathology in the caudate nucleus, unrelated to neuroleptic medication, with cognitive abnormalities in the schizophrenia spectrum.