Reduced prefrontal activity predicts exaggerated striatal dopaminergic function in schizophrenia

Nat Neurosci. 2002 Mar;5(3):267-71. doi: 10.1038/nn804.


Both dopaminergic neurotransmission and prefrontal cortex (PFC) function are known to be abnormal in schizophrenia. To test the hypothesis that these phenomena are related, we measured presynaptic dopaminergic function simultaneously with regional cerebral blood flow during the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and a control task in unmedicated schizophrenic subjects and matched controls. We show that the dopaminergic uptake constant Ki in the striatum was significantly higher for patients than for controls. Patients had significantly less WCST-related activation in PFC. The two parameters were strongly linked in patients, but not controls. The tight within-patient coupling of these values, with decreased PFC activation predicting exaggerated striatal 6-fluorodopa uptake, supports the hypothesis that prefrontal cortex dysfunction may lead to dopaminergic transmission abnormalities.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism*
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnostic imaging
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed


  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • fluorodopa F 18
  • Dihydroxyphenylalanine
  • Dopamine