Regional cerebral blood flow in monozygotic twins discordant and concordant for schizophrenia

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1992 Dec;49(12):927-34. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1992.01820120015004.


We addressed several questions regarding hypofunction of the prefrontal cortex ("hypofrontality") in schizophrenia by measuring regional cerebral blood flow during three different cognitive conditions in monozygotic twins who were discordant or concordant for schizophrenia or who were both normal. These questions included the prevalence of hypofrontality, the importance of genetic predisposition, and the role of long-term neuroleptic treatment. Significant differences between affected and unaffected discordant twins were found only during a task linked to the prefrontal cortex, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. During this condition, all of the twins with schizophrenia were hypofrontal compared with their unaffected co-twins, suggesting that, if appropriate cognitive conditions and control groups are used, hypofrontality can be demonstrated in the majority of, if not all, patients with schizophrenia. When unaffected co-twins of patients with schizophrenia were compared with twins who were both normal, no differences were observed, suggesting that nongenetic factors are important in the cause of the prefrontal physiologic deficit that appears to characterize schizophrenia. When concordant twins with a high- vs a low-dose lifetime history of neuroleptic treatment were compared, the twin receiving the higher dose was more hyperfrontal in six of eight pairs, suggesting that long-term neuroleptic treatment does not play a major role in hypofrontality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Diseases in Twins / diagnosis*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / blood supply*
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / genetics*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Twins, Monozygotic
  • Xenon Radioisotopes


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Xenon Radioisotopes