Background: Gyrification is an important index of brain development. We used magnetic resonance scanning technology to compare brain surface morphology and measures of gyrification in children and adolescents with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder and in age-equivalent healthy controls.
Methods: Magnetic resonance scans were obtained from 42 patients and 24 healthy controls, mean age 17.7 years for both groups. We employed novel quantitative measures of brain morphology, including cortical thickness and a variety of indices of sulcal and gyral curvature. We examined these measures in the whole brain and in the frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes.
Results: There were significant decreases in cortical thickness in the patients. This was most pronounced in the cortical tissue that underlies the sulci. The patient group had significantly more flattened curvature in the sulci and more steeped or peaked curvature in the gyri.
Conclusions: This study quantitatively examines cortical thickness and surface morphology in children and adolescents with schizophrenia. Patients with schizophrenia demonstrated patterns of brain morphology that were distinctly different from healthy controls. In light of current theories of the formation of gyri and sulci, these changes may reflect aberrations in cerebral and subcortical connectivity.