Reduced thalamic volume in first-episode non-affective psychosis: correlations with clinical variables, symptomatology and cognitive functioning

Neuroimage. 2007 May 1;35(4):1613-23. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.01.048. Epub 2007 Feb 13.


Structural studies have inconsistently shown the presence of thalamic volume differences in patients with schizophrenia. However, only a few studies have examined the relation between thalamic structure and clinical and cognitive variables in early phases of the illness. Thalamic volumes in right-handed minimally treated first episode patients with non-affective psychosis (N=61) relative to those of right-handed healthy comparison subjects (N=40) were measured. Thalamic volumes in the right and left hemispheres and total thalamic volume were automatically segmented and analyzed using BRAINS2. Analysis of covariance was used to control for intracranial volume. Clinical symptoms were assessed by total scores of BPRS, SAPS and SANS. The relationship between three cognitive dimensions (verbal learning and memory, speed processing/executive functioning and sustained attention/vigilance), and thalamic volume was evaluated. The impact of the duration of untreated illness, untreated psychosis and prodrome period in thalamic morphometry was also explored. Right, left, and total thalamic volumes of the patients with non-affective psychosis were significantly smaller than those of the healthy subjects. Larger thalamic volumes were associated with an earlier age of onset, a poorer cognitive functioning and a more severe negative symptomatology. Thalamic volumetric differences between patients with non-affective psychosis and healthy controls are already present at early phases of the illness. However, further investigations are warranted to fully clarify the relationship between those structural anomalies and clinical and cognitive outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotic Disorders / pathology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Thalamus / pathology*
  • Verbal Learning / physiology