Kubicki M, Westin CF, McCarley RW, Shenton ME
Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 2005 Dec;1064:134-48
Schizophrenia is a serious and disabling mental disorder that affects approximately 1% of the general population, with often devastating effects on the psychological and financial resources of the patient, family, and larger community. The etiology of schizophrenia is not known, although it likely involves several interacting biological and environmental factors that predispose an individual to schizophrenia. However, although the underlying pathology remains unknown, it has been believed that brain abnormalities would ultimately be linked to the etiology of schizophrenia. This theory was rekindled in the 1970s, when the first computer-assisted tomography (CT) study showed enlarged lateral ventricles in schizophrenia. Since that time, there have been many improvements in MR acquisition and image processing, including the introduction of positron emission tomography (PET), followed by functional MR (fMRI), and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). These advances have led to an appreciation of the critical role that brain abnormalities play in schizophrenia. While structural MRI has proven to be useful in investigating and detecting gray matter abnormalities in schizophrenia, the investigation of white matter has proven to be more challenging as white matter appears homogeneous on conventional MRI and the fibers connecting different brain regions cannot be appreciated. With the development of DTI, we are now able to investigate white matter abnormalities in schizophrenia.