Symptom dimensions and brain morphology in schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders

J Psychiatr Res. Jul-Aug 1995;29(4):261-76. doi: 10.1016/0022-3956(94)00046-t.


The heterogeneity of symptoms in schizophrenia may reflect heterogeneity of underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. Factor analytic studies have consistently identified three symptom factors, psychotic, negative and disorganized, as independent dimensions of schizophrenic psychopathology. This study examined the relationship of these symptom dimensions with volumes of specific brain regions. One-hundred and sixty-six schizophrenia spectrum patients were clinically evaluated with the Comprehensive Assessment of Symptoms and History (CASH) and scanned with a 1.5 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging scanner. Regions of interest (ROIs) were manually traced on 5 mm and 3 mm coronal slices by a single technician, blind to all aspects of subject identity. Correlations between ROI volumes and indices of symptom severity were determined. Analyses of covariance were then used to test for specific relationships between each of the three symptom dimensions and ROI volumes. Tests were made of each dimension, controlling for all others. Overall symptom severity was significantly correlated with larger ventricle volumes (lateral, third and temporal horns) and smaller temporal lobe, hippocampal and superior temporal gyral volumes. Both psychotic and negative symptom severity predicted increased third ventricular volume. Psychotic symptom severity uniquely predicted decreased superior temporal gyral volume as well as increased temporal horn volume. Within the psychotic symptom dimension, hallucinations alone predicted left superior temporal gyral volume. No significant associations between disorganized symptoms and any ROIs were demonstrated. These results provide clues to the localization of specific brain regions underlying symptom clusters in schizophrenia, and provide further validating evidence for the construct of independent dimensions of psychopathology within schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / pathology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reference Values
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology