Molecular Brain Imaging and the Neurobiology and Genetics of Schizophrenia

A. Heinz, B. Romero, J. Gallinat, G. Juckel, D. R. Weinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


It has been hypothesized that schizophrenia is related to dysfunction in temporolimbic-prefrontal neuronal networks, which is acquired early in an individual's development. After puberty, relatively reduced prefrontal control of striatal dopaminergic neurotransmission may lead to unmodulated striatal dopamine (DA) activity, and the positive symptoms of acute psychosis. Brain imaging studies support the notion of prefrontal dysfunction in schizophrenia and correlated upregulation of presynaptic striatal DA activity. Recent molecular brain imaging studies have combined genetic assessments with a multimodal neuroimaging approach to further refine our understanding of the pathophysiologic architecture of the disorder. We review the literature on functional brain imaging in schizophrenia and discuss genotype effects on core psychotic symptoms. A promising research strategy is the identification of genetic and environmental factors that contribute to intermediate phenotypes such as working memory deficits in schizophrenia. Molecular brain imaging can help to unravel the complex interactions between genes and environment and its association with neuronal network dysfunction in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S152-S157
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • COMT genotype
  • Dopamine
  • Neurodevelopment
  • PET
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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