Schizophrenia is a brain disorder characterized by a wide range of brain structural and functional changes. Accumulating evidence has suggested that such altered changes in brain structure and functions may occur much earlier before the onset of the illness.
One recent study conducted by Dr. Raymond Chan from the Institute of Psychology has demonstrated that individuals with schizotypy are associated with subtle brain functional connectivity adaptive changes, especially within the default mode network and the sensorimotor network. Few studies have provided evidence on the structural changes in individuals with schizotypy. Of the limited studies, most of them were primarily limited to the analysis of white matter connectivity.
With the advance of imaging analysis, researchers can now use the structural covariance method to examine the inter-individual covariation in morphological changes of the entire brain based on the grey matter volume.
In order to further examine whether individuals with schizotypy would exhibit similar altered brain structural connectivity based on grey matter volume, Dr. Raymond Chan's team has recruited 87 individuals with schizotypy and 122 controls to undertake brain scan.
Their findings showed that individuals with schizotypy exhibited altered grey matter volume and structural covariance mainly at the medial prefrontal cortex and the striatum. Grey matter volume of the left middle temporal pole and the right superior frontal gyrus was found to correlate positively with the schizotypal traits. Interestingly correlations were also found between cerebellum and schizotypal traits scores in individuals with schizotypy but not controls.
Specifically, volumes of the bilateral cerebellum 9 sub-region correlated negatively with the cognitive-perceptual domain of schizotypal traits, volume of the bilateral striatum correlated positively with the interpersonal domain of schizotypal traits, and volume of the bilateral superior temporal pole correlated positively with the disorganization domain of schizotypal traits. Together, these results highlight important grey matter structural changes in individuals with schizotypy.
This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Programme, the Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission Grant, the Beijing Training Project for the Leading Talents in S & T, the Strategic Priority Research Program (B) of the Chinese Academy of Science, and the CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology.
This study is now available online on Schizophrenia Research in a paper entitled "Grey matter volume and structural covariance associated with schizotypy".
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