Insular cortex abnormalities in schizophrenia: a structural magnetic resonance imaging study of first-episode patients

Schizophr Res. 2000 Nov 30;46(1):35-43. doi: 10.1016/s0920-9964(00)00028-1.


The insular cortex is a limbic integration region that is engaged in emotional and cognitive functions. To investigate possible insular cortex abnormalities in schizophrenia, we measured insular gray matter volume and cortical surface size in drug-naive first-episode patients. Magnetic resonance images were used to explore the morphology of the insular cortex of 25 healthy male volunteers, and 25 male schizophrenic patients. Groups were matched for age, sex, height, and parental socio-economic status. Clinical dimension scores were correlated with insular gray matter volume and cortical surface area. Patients had a significant reduction in cortical surface area [patients=2020 (206); controls=2142 (204); F=5.83, df=1, 47; P=0.01] and gray matter volume [patients=8.12 (0.77); controls=8.57 (0.94); F=3.93, df=1,47; P=0.05] in the left insular cortex. Insular gray matter volume and cortical surface size correlated negatively and significantly with the psychotic symptom dimension. Schizophrenic patients show morphological abnormalities in the insular cortex at early stages of the illness. These abnormalities are related to the severity of psychotic symptoms. Further investigations are needed to evaluate the role of the insula in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / abnormalities*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / etiology*