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Review of functional and anatomical brain connectivity findings in schizophrenia

Fitzsimmons, Jennifera; Kubicki, Mareka,b; Shenton, Martha E.a,b,c

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: March 2013 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - p 172–187
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e32835d9e6a
SCHIZOPHRENIA AND RELATED DISORDERS: Edited by W. Wolfgang Fleischhacker and Lynn E. DeLisi

Purpose of review We review diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies that investigate white matter abnormalities in patients with chronic schizophrenia, first episode schizophrenia, and those who are at genetic risk for developing schizophrenia. Additionally, we include studies that combine DTI and functional MRI (fMRI) to investigate brain connectivity abnormalities.

Recent findings Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder with a peak age of onset in early adulthood. Abnormalities in white matter tracts, which connect brain regions into functional networks, are most likely relevant for understanding structural and functional brain abnormalities in schizophrenia. Dysconnectivity between brain regions, in fact, is thought to underlie cognitive abnormalities in schizophrenia but little is known about how alterations at the functional level relate to abnormalities in anatomical connectivity. DTI has become one of the most popular tools in brain research to address such questions. Here we review white matter abnormalities using DTI with the aim of understanding dysconnectivity of brain regions and their implications in schizophrenia.

Summary Advances in DTI and in combining DTI with fMRI provide new insight into anatomical and functional connections in the brain, and for studying dysconnectivity in schizophrenia.

aPsychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry

bSurgical Planning Laboratory, MRI Division, Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

cVA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence to Jennifer Fitzsimmons, MD, Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory, 1249 Boylston Street, 2nd Floor Boston, MA 02215, USA. Tel: +1 617 525 6207; fax: +1 617 525 6170; e-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.