Progressive pathology is functionally linked to the domains of language and emotion: meta-analysis of brain structure changes in schizophrenia patients
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- Nickl-Jockschat, T., Schneider, F., Pagel, A.D. et al. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci (2011) 261: 166. doi:10.1007/s00406-011-0249-8
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Schizophrenia is a neuropsychiatric disorder entailing progressive psychotic, cognitive and affective symptoms. Several imaging studies identified brain structure abnormalities in schizophrenia patients, particularly in fronto-temporal regions and evidence for progressive anatomical changes. Here, we synthesised these findings by quantitative coordinate-based meta-analysis, assessing regions of consistently reported brain structure changes, their physiological functions and the correlation of their likelihood with disease duration. The meta-analysis revealed four significant clusters of convergent grey matter reduction, while one cluster indicated higher grey matter values in patients. A voxel-wise analysis revealed a correlation between grey matter reduction and disease duration in the left anterior insula. Functional characterisation revealed significant association with reward, affective processing and language functions. The current analysis allowed the identification of consistent morphometric changes across a large sample of studies in regions that are associated with neurophysiological functions that are altered as hallmarks of schizophrenia psychopathology. The observation that the location of presumably progressive pathology is functionally linked to language and emotion is well in line with increasing deficits in these domains with disease progression in schizophrenia.