Reduced Laterality as a Trait Marker of Schizophrenia-Evidence from Structural and Functional Neuroimaging
Laterality is a characteristic principle of the organization of the brain systems for language, and reduced hemispheric asymmetry has been considered a risk factor for schizophrenia. Here we sought support for the risk factor hypothesis by investigating whether reduced asymmetry of temporal lobe structure and function is also present in unaffected relatives. Sixteen schizophrenia patients, 16 age-matched first-degree relatives, and 15 healthy controls underwent high-resolution three-dimensional anatomical imaging and functional magnetic resonance imaging during auditory stimulation. Both the overall auditory cortex and planum temporale volumes and the lateralization to the left hemisphere were markedly reduced in patients. The decrease of lateralization correlated with increased severity of symptoms. In addition, both the overall functional activation in response to auditory stimulation and its asymmetry were reduced in the patients. Relatives had intermediate values between patients and controls on both structural and functional measures. This study provides added support for the idea that reduced hemispheric asymmetry is a biological risk factor for schizophrenia.
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