Cortical gyral anatomy and gross brain dimensions in monozygotic twins discordant for schizophrenia

J. Thomas Noga, Alycia J. Bartley, Douglas W. Jones, E. Fuller Torrey, Daniel R. Weinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: This study combines recent advances in three-dimensional neuroimaging technology and the genetic constraints inherent in monozygotic (MZ) twins to examine surface gyral anatomy and gross brain dimensions in monozygotic twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia. Results are presented and evaluated with respect to prior observations of cortical anomalies in schizophrenia and the hypothesis that schizophrenia involves cortical maldevelopment. Design: Three-dimensional renderings from volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of 13 MZ twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia and nine normal MZ pairs were studied. Qualitative assessments of left and right hemisphere surfaces were made by raters blind to diagnosis in an effort to identify developmental gyral abnormalities such as vertical temporal gyri or microgyria. Measurements of brain hemisphere length, area, and volume were also determined. These data were compared within discordant MZ schizophrenia pairs, within normal MZ pairs, and between matched unaffected discordant and normal MZ groups. Results: Raters did not identify qualitatively abnormal gyri in the schizophrenia subjects to enable distinction from their unaffected co-twins or from normal controls. Brain hemisphere volumes in the affected DS were significantly smaller bilaterally by about 3% compared with their unaffected DS co-twins, who did not differ from normals on this measure. Conclusions: We were unable to confirm previous reports of vertical gyri or localized gyral thinning as being characteristic of the cortical anatomy of schizophrenia. If cortical maldevelopment is associated with schizophrenia, it does not appear to disrupt gross gyral pattern formation in these ways. The quantitative results of diminished hemisphere volume and length in the twins with schizophrenia are consistent with previous reports of smaller brain size in schizophrenia. Our results suggest that this is a bilateral phenomenon that may be dependent, at least in part, on environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 18 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • cortex
  • discordance
  • gyral anatomy
  • monozygotic twins
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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