Thought disorder and nucleus accumbens in childhood: A structural MRI study
Thought disorder has been described as a hallmark feature in both adult and childhood-onset schizophrenia. The nucleus accumbens (NAc) has been repeatedly proposed as a critical station for modulating gating of information flow and processing of information within the thalamocortical circuitry. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship of thought disorder measures, which were administered to 12 children with schizophrenia and 15 healthy age-matched controls, and NAc volumes obtained from high-resolution volumetric magnetic resonance imaging analyses. The propensity for specific thought disorder features was significantly related to NAc volumes, despite no statistically significant differences in the NAc volumes of children with schizophrenia and normal children. Smaller left NAc volumes were significantly related to poor on-line revision of linguistic errors in word choice, syntax and reference. On the other hand, underuse of on-line repair of errors in planning and organizing thinking was significantly associated with decreased right NAc volumes. The results of this pilot study suggest that the NAc is implicated in specific thought patterns of childhood. They also suggest that subcortical function in the NAc might reflect hemispheric specialization patterns with left lateralization for revision of linguistic errors and right lateralization for repair strategies involved in the organization of thinking.