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The Timing of Neurodevelopmental Abnormality in Schizophrenia: An Integrative Review of the Neuroimaging Literature

  • Todd Lencz, Robert M. Bilder and Barbara Cornblatt


In this paper we will review recent neuroimaging research in schizophrenia, with an aim to critically evaluate several recent proposals concerning the nature and the timing of the neuroanatomic abnormalities underlying the disorder. Specifically, enlargement of cerebrospinal fluid spaces, deficits in cortical gray matter, and reduced volume of mesiotemporal structures have all been reported in patients in the first episode of schizophrenia, their first-degree relatives, and individuals with schizotypal personality disorder, supporting the possibility that these abnormalities reflect a genetically mediated neurodevelopmental disorder. These findings from the empirical literature will be synthesized from the perspective of dual cytoarchitectonic trends theory of neurodevelopment, as well as in relation to current conceptions of the schizophrenia prodrome. We believe that the evidence shows that sufficient groundwork has been laid to begin longitudinal neuroimaging studies of adolescents at clinical risk for schizophrenia, in order to more definitively determine the pathophysiology of the disorder. Such information could have significant implications in terms of understanding the prediction, treatment, and ultimately the prevention of schizophrenia.



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