Assessments of function and biochemistry of the anterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenia

Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Oct 1;68(7):625-33. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.04.013. Epub 2010 Jun 8.


Background: Neuroimaging and electrophysiologic studies have consistently provided evidence of impairment in anterior cingulate cortex/medial frontal cortex function in people with schizophrenia. In this study, we sought to clarify the nature of this abnormality by combining proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at 3T.

Methods: We used single-voxel MRS acquired in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and fMRI during performance of a Stroop color-naming task to investigate the neurochemistry and functional response of the anterior cingulate cortex/medial frontal cortex in 26 stable, medicated subjects with schizophrenia and 23 matched healthy control subjects.

Results: In schizophrenia subjects, we found decreased blood oxygen level-dependent signal in the medial frontal wall, with significant clusters restricted to more dorsal regions compared with healthy subjects. In addition, we observed a trend-level decrease in N-acetylaspartate/creatine (NAA/Cr) levels and a significant positive correlation between NAA/Cr level and the blood oxygen level-dependent signal in schizophrenia subjects that did not exist in healthy subjects. Furthermore, in this group of medicated subjects, we did not find evidence of decreased glutamate + glutamine(Glx)/Cr levels, but there was a significant negative correlation between Glx/Cr levels and negative symptoms.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that abnormal NAA levels, which may reflect a neuronal dysfunction related to schizophrenia, affect neuronal physiology, as evidenced by reduced blood oxygen level-dependent response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Creatine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / blood supply
  • Gyrus Cinguli / chemistry*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / diagnostic imaging
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Protons
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Schizophrenia / pathology*
  • Young Adult


  • Protons
  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Creatine