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REGULAR ARTICLES   |    
Absence of regional hemispheric volume asymmetries in first-episode schizophrenia
Am J Psychiatry 1994;151:1437-1447.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to determine whether patients experiencing their first episode of schizophrenia differ from healthy subjects in regional cerebral hemispheric volumes or asymmetries. METHOD: Regional volumes corresponding to prefrontal, premotor, sensorimotor, occipitoparietal, and temporal lobes in each hemisphere were measured on contiguous coronal magnetic resonance images in 70 patients experiencing their first episode of schizophrenia and in 51 healthy comparison subjects. RESULTS: Patients did not differ from the comparison subjects in regional or total hemispheric volumes, but they had abnormal hemispheric asymmetries. Subjects in the comparison group had significant lateral asymmetries in each region: their occipitoparietal and sensorimotor regions were larger on the left, and their premotor, prefrontal, and temporal regions were larger on the right. Patients lacked lateral asymmetries and showed significantly less asymmetry than healthy subjects in occipitoparietal, premotor, and prefrontal regions. Absence of the normal asymmetry was more common among patients initially diagnosed with the undifferentiated than with the paranoid subtype of schizophrenia and was associated with more severe negative symptoms among men. Asymmetries were related to sex and handedness regardless of diagnosis; specifically, dextral men showed more asymmetry than nondextral men or dextral women. CONCLUSIONS: The absence of normal hemispheric asymmetries suggests an anomaly in the development of laterally specialized cerebral systems in schizophrenia, and this may be associated with an initial presentation of nonparanoid psychosis.

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