Background: Data from postmortem, CT, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies indicate that patients with schizophrenia may have anatomical abnormalities of the left temporal lobe, but it is unclear whether these abnormalities are related to the thought disorder characteristic of schizophrenia.
Methods: We used new MRI neuroimaging techniques to derive (without knowledge of the diagnosis) volume measurements and three-dimensional reconstructions of temporal-lobe structures in vivo in 15 right-handed men with chronic schizophrenia and 15 matched controls.
Results: As compared with the controls, the patients had significant reductions in the volume of gray matter in the left anterior hippocampus-amygdala (by 19 percent [95 percent confidence interval, 3 to 36 percent]), the left parahippocampal gyrus (by 13 percent [95 percent confidence interval, 3 to 23 percent], vs. 8 percent on the right), and the left superior temporal gyrus (by 15 percent [95 percent confidence interval, 5 to 25 percent]). The volume of the left posterior superior temporal gyrus correlated with the score on the thought-disorder index in the 13 patients evaluated (r = -0.81, P = 0.001). None of these regional volume decreases was accompanied by a decrease in the volume of the overall brain or temporal lobe. The volume of gray matter in a control region (the superior frontal gyrus) was essentially the same in the patients and controls.
Conclusions: Schizophrenia involves localized reductions in the gray matter of the left temporal lobe. The degree of thought disorder is related to the size of the reduction in volume of the left posterior superior temporal gyrus.