The anterior cingulate cortex is a cerebral region engaged in several emotional and cognitive functions. The aim of this study was to investigate possible anterior cingulate and paracingulate sulcal abnormalities in schizophrenia. Twenty-three patients with DSM-IV diagnoses of schizophrenia were compared with 23 healthy subjects matched for age, gender, and parental socioeconomic status. Magnetic resonance images were used to explore the morphology of these regions, with volume and maximum depth being measured by an automated method of sulcal recognition. Additionally, voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was performed to analyze possible reduction in gray and white matter of the anterior cingulate region. A smaller volume of the left anterior cingulate sulcus (ACS) was observed in patients with schizophrenia when compared with healthy controls. Furthermore, female patients showed a reduction in volume of the left ACS and an increase of the right paracingulate sulcus (PCS) compared to female controls. There was also a significant relationship between the depth of right PCS and neuroleptic exposure. VBM analysis showed a reduction in left anterior cingulate gray matter. These findings provide further evidence of left anterior middle frontal cortex abnormalities in schizophrenia. In addition, the results suggest gender differences in the structural abnormalities of the illness.
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