Shape changes in prefrontal, but not parieto-occipital regions: Brains of schizophrenic patients come closer to a circle in coronal and sagittal view

Peter Falkai, Ralf Tepest, William G. Honer, Indra Dani, Guido Ahle, Ute Pfeiffer, Kai Vogeley, Thomas G. Schulze, Marcella Rietschel, Joachim Cordes, Helmut Schönell, Wolfgang Gaebel, Kai Uwe Kühn, Wolfgang Maier, Frank Träber, Wolfgang Block, Hans H. Schild, Thomas Schneider-Axmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


There is some evidence for prefrontal (PF) lobe changes in schizophrenia while the parieto-occipital (PO) region seems to be unaffected. This magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study was performed to examine shape differences as part of the spectrum of structural abnormalities in schizophrenia. The measurements were done on families affected with schizophrenia to identify the influence of genetic and environmental factors on these changes. The sample under study consisted of 164 subjects including 45 family members (FM) suffering from schizophrenia, 27 FM with other psychiatric disorders and 51 FM without psychiatric disorders based on ICD-10 criteria. In addition, 41 nonpsychiatric control subjects were included in the study. On defined planes at the corpus callosum boundary of the PF and the PO, brain width, height and length were measured on coronal slices. Ratios of these linear measurements were also calculated based on the idea that a plane can be approximated by a circle if the concerning ratio comes close to 1. It was hypothesized that these relative brain shape parameters, especially the PF ratio width/height, would show differences between schizophrenic patients and control subjects. For all members from families with schizophrenia compared with control subjects, there were significant differences in the PF, but not in the PO region. PF height was increased. PF ratios of width/height and height/(2×length) were closer to 1 in affected families than in control subjects. The results can be interpreted as an indication for PF brain shape changes in subjects with a disposition for schizophrenia. On coronal and sagittal planes situated at the corpus callosum, their PF could be approximated by a circle better than in control subjects. As the frontal lobe takes shape late in brain development, underlying genetic mechanisms may be dysregulated in schizophrenic patients and subjects at risk to develop the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-271
Number of pages11
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 30 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Asymmetry coefficient
  • Height
  • Length
  • Linear measurements
  • Proportion variables
  • Width

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)


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