OBJECTIVE: This study was undertaken to test the feasibility of using
functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine changes in cortical
activation in response to verbal tasks in two brain regions. METHOD: Twelve
schizophrenic patients and 11 comparison subjects underwent functional MRI
of the frontal and temporal lobes. Stimulus sequences were divided into
five 30-second segments by using a task- activation paradigm that
alternated between resting and stimulated states. Functional images were
collected every 30 seconds by using a gradient echo pulse sequence.
RESULTS: Schizophrenic subjects demonstrated significantly less left
frontal activation and greater left temporal activation than comparison
subjects during a word fluency task. CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary data
suggest that functional MRI has the sensitivity to detect differences in
activation between comparison subjects and schizophrenic patients during
higher cortical functions. These findings are in agreement with PET studies
that reported reduced left frontal activation during challenge paradigms
for the schizophrenic patients.