MRI sees brain differences in schizophrenics

Researchers interpreting MR images have discovered major differences in brain networks between people with a severe form of schizophrenia and healthy individuals and those with less severe forms of the disease.

The findings, published online March 18 in JAMA Psychiatry, come from researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.

The study evaluated 128 people with schizophrenia and 130 matched healthy controls from two sites. For additional comparison, the researchers also studied 39 patients with bipolar disorder and 43 matched controls from a third site. The subjects with schizophrenia were categorized as having more or less severe forms of the disease.

Senior author Dr. Aristotle Voineskos, PhD, and colleagues then used an approach called network analysis to study the overall network density, or level of connectivity, in the brain.

They found alterations in a number of relationships between brain regions in those with more severe schizophrenia versus the other groups, including those with less severe schizophrenia. The results provide strong evidence that schizophrenia is not just one brain disorder, Voineskos said in a CAMH statement.

The study also confirms previous research by the group, which found changes in the white-matter tissues connecting those same regions in patients with more severe schizophrenia.

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