Associations between brain morphology and outcome in schizophrenia in a general population sample

Eur Psychiatry. 2014 Sep;29(7):456-62. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2013.10.006. Epub 2013 Dec 15.


Objective: To analyse associations between brain morphology and longitudinal and cross-sectional measures of outcomes in schizophrenia in a general population sample.

Methods: The sample was the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort. In 1999-2001, structural brain MRI and measures of clinical and functional outcomes were analysed for 54 individuals with schizophrenia around the age of 34. Sex, total grey matter, duration of illness and the use of antipsychotic medication were used as covariates.

Results: After controlling for multiple covariates, increased density of the left limbic area was associated with less hospitalisations and increased total white matter volume with being in remission. Higher density of left frontal grey matter was associated with not being on a disability pension and higher density of the left frontal lobe and left limbic area were related to better functioning. Higher density of the left limbic area was associated with better longitudinal course of illness.

Conclusions: This study, based on unselected general population data, long follow-up and an extensive database, confirms findings of previous studies, that morphological abnormalities in several brain structures are associated with outcome. The difference in brain morphology in patients with good and poor outcomes may reflect separable aetiologies and developmental trajectories in schizophrenia.

Keywords: Brain; MRI; Outcome; Prognosis; Psychosis; Schizophrenia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disabled Persons
  • Educational Status
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology*
  • Gray Matter / pathology
  • Humans
  • Limbic Lobe / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Pensions
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / pathology*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • White Matter / pathology*


  • Antipsychotic Agents