Structural neuroimaging in schizophrenia: from methods to insights to treatments

Shenton ME, Whitford TJ, Kubicki M

Dialogues Clin Neurosci 2010;12(3):317-32

PMID: 20954428


Historically, Kraepelin speculated that dementia praecox resulted from damage to the cerebral cortex, most notably the frontal and temporal cortices. It is only recently, however, that tools have been available to test this hypothesis. Now, more than a century later, we know that schizophrenia is a brain disorder. This knowledge comes from critical advances in imaging technology–including computerized axial tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion imaging–all of which provide an unprecedented view of neuroanatomical structures, in vivo. Here, we review evidence for structural neuroimaging abnormalities, beginning with evidence for focal brain abnormalities, primarily in gray matter, and proceeding to the quest to identify abnormalities in brain systems and circuits by focusing on damage to white matter connections in the brain. We then review future prospects that need to be explored and pursued in order to translate our current knowledge into an understanding of the neurobiology of schizophrenia, which can then be translated into novel treatments.