Hippocampal underactivation in an fMRI study of word and face memory recognition in schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a major mental disorder which is characterized by several cognitive deficits. Investigations of the neural basis of memory dysfunctions using neuroimaging techniques suggest that the hippocampus plays an important role in declarative memory impairment. The goal of this study was to investigate possible dysfunctions in cerebral activation in schizophrenic patients during both word and face recognition memory tasks. We tested 22 schizophrenics and 24 controls matched by gender, age, handedness and parental socioeconomic status. Compared to healthy volunteers, patients with schizophrenia showed decreased bilateral hippocampal activation during word and face recognition tasks. The whole brain analysis also showed a pattern of cortical and subcortical hypoactivation for both verbal and non-verbal recognition. This study provides further evidence of hippocampal involvement in declarative memory impairments of schizophrenia.