Associations of cortical thickness and cognition in patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls

Stefan Ehrlich, Stefan Brauns, Anastasia Yendiki, Beng Choon Ho, Vince Calhoun, S. Charles Schulz, Randy L. Gollub, Scott R. Sponheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Previous studies have found varying relationships between cognitive functioning and brain volumes in patients with schizophrenia. However, cortical thickness may more closely reflect cytoarchitectural characteristics than gray matter density or volume estimates. Here, we aimed to compare associations between regional variation in cortical thickness and executive functions, memory, as well as verbal and spatial processing in patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls (HCs). We obtained magnetic resonance imaging and neuropsychological data for 131 patients and 138 matched controls. Automated cortical pattern matching methods allowed testing for associations with cortical thickness estimated as the shortest distance between the gray/white matter border and the pial surface at thousands of points across the entire cortical surface. Two independent measures of working memory showed robust associations with cortical thickness in lateral prefrontal cortex in HCs, whereas patients exhibited associations between working memory and cortical thickness in the right middle and superior temporal lobe. This study provides additional evidence for a disrupted structure-function relationship in schizophrenia. In line with the prefrontal inefficiency hypothesis, schizophrenia patients may engage a larger compensatory network of brain regions other than frontal cortex to recall and manipulate verbal material in working memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1050-1062
Number of pages13
JournalSchizophrenia bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive dysfunction
  • gray matter thickness
  • structural MRI
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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