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Decreased metabolic activity in the prefrontal cortex during cognitive activation is a recurrent finding and a likely functional marker of schizophrenia.
To investigate the occurrence of hypofrontality in patients with first-episode psychosis, with or without evolution to schizophrenia.
We used fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography during the performance of an attention task and magnetic resonance imaging to study the dorsolateral prefrontal region in 13 men with a first episode of psychosis. Data from patients who progressed to schizophrenia were compared with those of patients who did not meet criteria for this diagnosis after 2 years.
Patients who developed schizophrenia demonstrated a significant hypofrontality in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in comparison with the non-schizophrenia and control groups.
Our results suggest that hypofrontality could be a marker of schizophrenia at the time of the first psychotic episode, in agreement with neurodevelopmental theories of schizophrenia.
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