People with schizophrenia exhibit abnormalities in brain structure, often in the left hemisphere. Disturbed structural lateralization is controversial, however, and effects appear mediated by gender. The authors mapped differences between schizophrenic and normal subjects in gyral asymmetries, complexity, and variability across the entire cortex.
Asymmetry and shape profiles for 25 schizophrenic patients (15 men) and 28 demographically similar normal subjects (15 men) were obtained for 38 gyral regions, including the sylvian fissure and temporal and postcentral gyri, by using magnetic resonance data and a novel surface-based mesh-modeling approach. Cortical complexity was examined for sex and diagnosis effects in lobar regions. Intragroup variability was quantified and visualized to assess regional group abnormalities at the cortical surface.
The patients showed greater variability in frontal areas than the comparison subjects. They also had significant deviations in gyral complexity asymmetry in the superior frontal cortex. In temporoparietal regions, significant gyral asymmetries were present in both groups. Sex differences were apparent in superior temporal gyral measures, and cortical complexity in inferior frontal regions was significantly greater in men.
Cortical variability and complexity show regional abnormalities in the frontal cortex potentially specific to schizophrenia. The results indicate highly significant temporoparietal gyral asymmetries in both diagnostic groups, contrary to reports of less lateralization in schizophrenia. Substantially larger study groups are necessary to isolate smaller deviations in surface asymmetries, if present in schizophrenia, suggesting their diagnostic value is minimal.