The functional neuroanatomy of symptom dimensions in schizophrenia: a qualitative and quantitative review of a persistent question

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2010 Mar;34(3):468-86. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2009.09.004. Epub 2009 Sep 20.


One of the fundamental goals in understanding schizophrenia is linking the observable symptoms to the underlying unobservable pathophysiology. Given recent advances in medical imaging, researchers are increasingly investigating brain-behavior relationships to better understand the neural substrates of negative, positive, and disorganization symptoms in schizophrenia. This review focused on 25 task-related functional magnetic resonance imaging studies and found meaningful small to moderate associations between specific symptom dimensions and regional brain activity. Negative symptoms were related to the functioning of the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum. Positive symptoms, particularly persecutory ideation, were related to functioning of the medial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus/parahippocampal region. Disorganization symptoms, although less frequently evaluated, were related to functioning of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Surprisingly, no symptom domain had a consistent relationship with the middle or superior temporal regions. While a number of adaptations in experimental design and reporting standards can facilitate this work, current neuroimaging approaches appear to provide a number of consistent links between the manifest symptoms of schizophrenia and brain dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*