Structural abnormalities in the frontal system in schizophrenia. A magnetic resonance imaging study

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986 Feb;43(2):136-44. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800020042006.


Thirty-eight schizophrenics and 49 normal controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging. Midline sagittal cuts indicated that the schizophrenics had significantly smaller frontal lobes, as well as smaller cerebrums and craniums. The findings are consistent with some type of early developmental abnormality that might retard brain growth and therefore skull growth. These findings are confirmed on a smaller sample of patients on whom we have coronal cuts. Decreased cerebral and cranial size are associated with prominent negative symptoms, although decreased frontal size is not. Decreased cranial and cerebral size was also associated with impairment on some cognitive tests. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that some schizophrenics may have a type of early developmental abnormality associated with prominent negative symptoms and cognitive impairment. Further, the results suggest that schizophrenics may have a type of structural frontal system impairment. Thus, they provide anatomic evidence for the "hypofrontality hypothesis."

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Skull / anatomy & histology