Neuroimaging reveals characteristics of deficit schizophrenia

From Clinical Psychiatry News, 19 March 2013:

The deficit subtype of schizophrenia is characterized by white matter tract disruption, while all subtypes of schizophrenia feature a reduction in cortical thickness, a cross-sectional neuroimaging study has found.

Patients with deficit schizophrenia showed significant disruption of white matter at the right inferior longitudinal fasciculus, the right arcuate fasciculus, and the left uncinate fasciculus, compared with nondeficit patients and healthy controls, according to a study published in the March 6 online issue of JAMA Psychiatry (doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.786).

The study, which used high-resolution MRI to compare 77 patients with schizophrenia – 18 with deficit and 59 nondeficit – and 79 healthy controls, found these features also were present within first-episode patients who showed deficit-like characteristics. The main characteristics of the deficit subtype include primary, enduring negative symptoms and impaired emotion processing, emotion expression, and social function.

“Our finding within first-episode patients that a more ‘deficit-like’ clinical picture was associated with greater impairment within these same white matter tracts supports the fact that white matter disruption in these patients is a feature of the clinical deficit subtype, rather than other factors such as long-term medication exposure or duration of illness,” wrote Dr. Aristotle N. Voineskos of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, and his colleagues.

“In contrast, we also found that cortical thickness reductions were present in the same regions in both deficit and nondeficit patients compared with healthy controls, which supports the consistency of cortical thickness findings in different clinical subtypes,” they noted. Read more.

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