Orbitofrontal sulcal patterns in catatonia

Eur Psychiatry. 2023 Oct 19;67(1):e6. doi: 10.1192/j.eurpsy.2023.2461.


Background: Catatonia is a psychomotor syndrome frequently observed in disorders with neurodevelopmental impairments, including psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been repeatedly associated with catatonia. It presents with an important interindividual morphological variability, with three distinct H-shaped sulcal patterns, types I, II, and III, based on the continuity of the medial and lateral orbital sulci. Types II and III have been identified as neurodevelopmental risk factors for schizophrenia. The sulcal pattern of the OFC has never been investigated in catatonia despite the role of the OFC in the pathophysiology and the neurodevelopmental component of catatonia.

Methods: In this context, we performed a retrospective analysis of the OFC sulcal pattern in carefully selected homogeneous and matched subgroups of schizophrenia patients with catatonia (N = 58) or without catatonia (N = 65), and healthy controls (N = 82).

Results: Logistic regression analyses revealed a group effect on OFC sulcal pattern in the left (χ2 = 18.1; p < .001) and right (χ2 = 28.3; p < .001) hemispheres. Catatonia patients were found to have more type III and less type I in both hemispheres compared to healthy controls and more type III on the left hemisphere compared to schizophrenia patients without catatonia.

Conclusion: Because the sulcal patterns are indirect markers of early brain development, our findings support a neurodevelopmental origin of catatonia and may shed light on the pathophysiology of this syndrome.

Keywords: catatonic syndrome; neurodevelopment disorder; prefrontal cortex; schizophrenia; sulcogyral patterns.

MeSH terms

  • Catatonia*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Schizophrenia*