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Schizophrenia as a brain disease: Studies of individuals who have never been treated - Backgrounder

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There is a lot of misinformation regarding what is wrong with the brain in schizophrenia. Dr. Thomas Szasz has claimed that nothing is wrong and that schizophrenia is merely a “myth.”1 Dr. Peter Breggin has argued that people with schizophrenia bring the symptoms on themselves because of “cowardice” or “failure of nerve.”2

Briefing Paper
Updated March 2011

by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., Treatment Advocacy Center Board Member


There is a lot of misinformation regarding what is wrong with the brain in schizophrenia. Dr. Thomas Szasz once claimed that nothing is wrong and that schizophrenia is merely a “myth.” Dr. Peter Breggin has argued that people with schizophrenia bring the symptoms on themselves because of “cowardice” or “failure of nerve.” Dr. Daniel Fisher said that schizophrenia is merely “severe emotional distress and loss of social role” brought on by “trauma.” Scientologists even claim that the symptoms of schizophrenia are caused by the drugs that are used to treat it.

Szasz TS. Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1976).

Breggin PR, The Psychology of Freedom (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1980).

Condon G, quoting Daniel Fisher on WTIC-TV, Hartford, Connecticut, April 6, 2005.

Such statements indicate a profound ignorance about schizophrenia. Research has now clearly demonstrated that schizophrenia is caused by changes in the brain and that these can be measured by changes in both brain structure and brain function. Over 1,000 such research studies have been published. Schizophrenia is thus a disease of the brain in exactly the same sense that Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease are diseases of the brain.

The same thing can be said about some other severe psychiatric disorders, specifically bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), schizoaffective disorder, severe depression, autism, and severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. Research studies indicate that all of these are also diseases of the brain, although far fewer such studies have been done on these disorders than on schizophrenia.

The following sections will briefly review the evidence for schizophrenia as a brain disease. The only studies included will be studies carried out on individuals with schizophrenia who, at the time of the study, had never received any antipsychotic medication. Such individuals are often referred to by researchers as being neuroleptic-naïve. Thus, these studies prove that the changes in brain structure and function seen in schizophrenia are clearly caused by the disease process, not by the medications used to treat the disease.

Since 1975, there have been at least 120 such studies. They can be divided into research on structural abnormalities, neurological abnormalities, neuropsychological abnormalities, neurophysiological abnormalities, and cerebral metabolic abnormalities.

                       1. Structural Abnormalities

The modern era in schizophrenia research can be dated to 1976, with the publication of the first research using the newly developed computerized axial tomography (CT) brain scans, which showed that the brains of individuals with schizophrenia have significantly larger fluid-filled spaces (cerebral ventricles) compared to unaffected controls. The CT scan was the first technology allowing for visualization of brain structures in living patients that could be used to statistically distinguish those with schizophrenia from unaffected controls. Following the introduction of CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans also became widely available for studying brain structures.

Since 1976, a total of 35 studies of brain structure have been done on individuals with schizophrenia who had never been medicated. All 6 studies that measured the size of the brain ventricles found them to be significantly enlarged. For example, Gur et al. reported a 16 percent increase in ventricular volume in 33 never-treated patients compared to 65 unaffected controls. Similarly, McCreadie et al. reported a 20 percent increase in ventricular volume in 42 patients compared to 31 unaffected controls. In addition to ventricular size, abnormalities in brain structure in never-treated individuals with schizophrenia have been reported for the frontal cortex, temporal cortex, hippocampus, amygdala, cingulate, thalamus, cerebellum, corpus callosum, and septum pellucidum. The only brain area that has been extensively studied and for which the results of different studies have been contradictory is the basal ganglia, especially its caudate subdivision.

Johnstone EC, Crow TJ, Frith CD et al., Cerebral ventricular size and cognitive impairment in chronic schizophrenia, Lancet 1976;2:924. This research was carried out at Northwick Park Clinical Research Center in London. Although group differences are statistically significant, there is some overlap in ventricular size between individual patients with schizophrenia and unaffected controls, and so ventricular size cannot be used as a diagnostic marker.

Schulz SC et al., Treatment response and ventricular brain enlargement in young schizophrenic patients, Psychopharmacol Bull 1983;19:510–512; Degreef G et al. Increased prevalence of the cavum septum pellucidum in magnetic resonance scans and post-mortem brains of schizophrenic patients, Psychiatry Res: Neuroimaging 1992;45:1–13; Lieberman J et al., Qualitative assessment of brain morphology in acute and chronic schizophrenia, Am J Psychiatry 1992;149;784–794; Chakos MH et al., Increase in caudate nuclei volumes of first-episode schizophrenic patients taking antipsychotic drugs, Am J Psychiatry 1994;151:1430–1436; Gur RE et al., Subcortical MRI volumes in neuroleptic-naïve and treated patients with schizophrenia, Am J Psychiatry 1998;155:1711–1717; Keshavan MS et al., Decreased caudate volume in neuroleptic-naïve psychotic patients, Am J Psychiatry 1998;155:774–778; Shihabuddin L et al., Dorsal striatal size, shape, and metabolic rate in never-medicated and previously medicated schizophrenics performing a verbal learning task, Arch Gen Psychiatry 1998;55:235–243; Corson PW et al., Caudate size in first-episode neuroleptic-naïve schizophrenic patients measured using an artificial neural network, Biol Psychiatry 1999;46:712–720; Gur RE et al., Reduced gray matter volume in schizophrenia, Arch Gen Psychiatry 1999;56 905–911; Gur RE et al., Reduced dorsal and orbital prefrontal gray matter volumes in schizophrenia, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2000;57;761–768; Gur RE et al., Temporolimbic volume reductions in schizophrenia, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2000;57:57769–57775; Ettinger U et al., Magnetic resonance imaging of the thalamus in first-episode psychosis, Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:116–118; Gilbert AR et al., Thalamic volumes in patients with first-episode schizophrenia, Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:618–624; Cahn W et al., Brain morphology in antipsychotic-naïve schizophrenia: a study of multiple brain structures, Br J Psychiatry 2002;181(suppl 43):S66–72; Cahn W et al., Brain volume changes in first-episode schizophrenia: a 1-Year follow-up study, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2002;59:1002–1010; Gunduz H et al., Basal ganglia volumes in first-episode schizophrenia and healthy comparison subjects, Biol Psychiatry 2002;51:801–808; Joyal CC et al., A volumetric MRI study of the entorhinal cortex in first episode neuroleptic-naïve schizophrenia, Biol Psychiatry 2002;51:1005–1007; Karlsson P et al., PET study of D 1 dopamine receptor binding in neuroleptic-naïve patients with schizophrenia, Am J Psychiatry 2002;159:761–767; Keshavan MS et al., Abnormalities of the corpus Callosum in first episode, treatment naïve schizophrenia, J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2002;72:757–760; Keshavan MS et al., Cavum septi pellucidi in first-episode patients and young relatives at risk for schizophrenia, CNS Spectrums 2002;7:155–158; McCreadie RG et al., Structural brain differences between never-treated patients with schizophrenia, with and without dyskinesia, and normal control subjects: a magnetic imaging study, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2002;59:332–336; Tauscher-Wisniewski S et al., Caudate volume changes in first episode psychosis parallel the effects of normal aging: a 5-year follow-up study, Schizophr Res 2002;58:185–188; Cherascu G et al., Changes in morphology of the thalamus over time in subjects with neuroleptic naïve schizophrenia: effects of neuroleptic treatment (abstract), Schizophr Res 2003;60:191; Haznedar MM et al., Cingulate gyrus gray and white matter volumes in drug naïve schizophrenia patients (poster presentation), annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (May 2003); Haznedar MM et al., Hippocampus volume and 3-D metabolic mapping in drug-naïve Schizophrenia patients (poster presentation), annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (May 2003); Hietala J et al., Regional brain morphology and duration of illness in never-medicated first-episode patients with schizophrenia (letter), Schizophr Res 2003;64:79–81; Joyal CC et al., The amygdala and schizophrenia: a volumetric magnetic resonance imaging study in first-episode neuroleptic-naïve patients, Biol Psychiatry 2003;54:1302–1304; Kim JJ et al., Morphology of the lateral superior temporal gyrus in neuroleptic naïve patients with schizophrenia: relationship to symptoms, Schizophr Res 2003;60:173–181; Lacerda ALT et al., Orbitofrontal cortex in first-episode schizophrenia: an MRI study (abstract), Biol Psychiatry 2003;53:116S; Szeszko PR et al., Smaller anterior hippocampal formation volume in antipsychotic-naïve patients with first-episode schizophrenia, Am J Psychiatry 2003;160:2190–2197; Venkatasubramanian G et al., Corticocerebellar alterations in never-treated young age at onset schizophrenia (abstract), Schizophr Res 2003;60:211; Konasale M et al., Cerebellum morphometry in first-episode psychotic disorders: regional specificity for psychotic symptoms and cognition (abstract), Biol Psychiatry 2004;55:169S; Venkatasubramanian G et al., Longitudinal study of MRI gray matter volume in treatment-naïve schizophrenia: evidence for Cognitive dysmetria (abstract), Schizophr Res 2004;67:25; Spinks R et al., Globus pallidus volume Is related to symptom severity in neuroleptic naïve patients with schizophrenia, Schizophr Res 2005;2005;73 :229–233; Narr KL et al., Cortical thinning in cingulate and occipital cortices in first episode schizophrenia, Biol Psychiatry 2005;58:32–40.

2. Neurological Abnormalities

Since 1976, at least 33 studies have reported significantly more neurological abnormalities in individuals with schizophrenia who had never been treated with antipsychotic medications compared to unaffected controls. The neurological abnormalities include abnormal spontaneous movements called dyskinesias, parkinsonian signs, neurological soft signs, and cerebellar signs.

Dyskinesias are spontaneous movements, usually involving the tongue, facial muscles, or arms. Eleven studies have demonstrated that such movements occur more often among never-treated individuals with schizophrenia than among unaffected controls. For example, Fenton et al. found that 23 percent of never-treated patients exhibited some form of spontaneous dyskinesia. Eight recent studies have also reported that never-treated patients with schizophrenia have neurological abnormalities resembling those seen in Parkinson’s disease, including rigidity, tremor, and slowing of movements. Combining the studies, 91 out of 394 (23 percent) never-treated patients showed parkinsonian signs.

Neurological abnormalities called soft signs have also been extensively investigated in individuals with schizophrenia. Soft signs include such things as being unable to identify the type of coin placed in the hand without looking at it. Since 1992, 14 research groups have assessed the presence of neurological soft signs in never-medicated patients with schizophrenia. Finally, a recent study compared neurological signs of cerebellar dysfunction in 155 never-treated individuals with schizophrenia to 155 matched unaffected controls. Among the patients, 21 percent had signs of cerebellar dysfunction, such as having an abnormal gait, whereas only 5 percent of the unaffected controls had such abnormalities.

Owens DGC, Spontaneous involuntary disorders of movement, Arch Gen Psychiatry 1982;39:452–461; Rogers D, The motor disorders of severe psychiatric illness: a conflict of paradigms, Br J Psychiatry 1985;147:221–232; McCreadie RG et al., The Scottish First Episode Schizophrenia Study: I. Patient identification and categorisation, Br J Psychiatry 1987;150:331–333; Waddington JL, Youssef HA, The lifetime outcome and involuntary movements of schizophrenia never treated with neuroleptic drugs: four rare cases in Ireland, Br J Psychiatry 1990;156:106–108; Fenton W et al., Rsk factors for spontaneous dyskinesia in schizophrenia, Arch Gen Psychiatry 1994;51:643–650; Chatterjee A et al., Prevalence and clinical correlates of extrapyramidal signs and spontaneous dyskinesia in never-medicated schizophrenic patients, Am J Psychiatry 1995;152;1724–1729; Fenn DS et al., Movements in never-medicated schizophrenics: a preliminary study, Psychopharmacology 1996;123:206–210; McCreadie RG et al., Abnormal movements in never-medicated indian patients with schizophrenia, Br J Psychiatry 1996;168:221–226; Gervin M et al., Spontaneous abnormal involuntary movements in first-episode schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorder: baseline rate in a group of patients from an Irish catchment area, Am J Psychiatry 1998;155:1202–1206; Puri BK et al., Spontaneous dyskinesia in first episode schizophrenia, J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1999;66:76–78; Honer W et al., Are movement disorders a part of the syndrome or consequences of treatment? (abstract), Schizophr Res 2002;53:11; Cortese L et al., Relationship of neuromotor disturbances to psychosis symptoms in first-episode neuroleptic-naïve schizophrenia patients, Schizophr Res 2005;75:65–75.

Caligiuri MP et al., Parkinsonism in neuroleptic-naïve schizophrenic patients, Am J Psychiatry 1993;150:1343–1348; Chatterjee A et al., Prevalence and clinical correlates of extrapyramidal signs and spontaneous dyskinesia in never-medicated schizophrenic patients, Am J Psychiatry 1995;152;1724–1729; Kopala LC et al., Risperidone in first-episode schizophrenia: improvement in symptoms and pre-existing extrapyramidal signs, Int J Psychiatry Clin Prac 1998;2:S19–S25; Puri BK et al., Spontaneous dyskinesia in first episode schizophrenia, J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1999;66:76–78; Honer WG et al., Extrapyramidal symptoms and signs in first-episode, antipsychotic exposed and non-exposed patients with schizophrenia or related psychotic illness, J Psychopharmacol 2005;19:277–285; Cortese L et al., Relationship of neuromotor disturbances to psychosis symptoms in first-episode neuroleptic-naïve schizophrenia patients, Schizophr Res 2005;75:65–75; Chong SA et al., Spontaneous Parkinsonism in antipsychotic-naïve patients with first-episode psychosis, Can J Psychiatry 2005;50:429–431.

Schröder J et al., Neurological soft signs in schizophrenia, Schizophr Res 1992;6:25–30; Rubin P et al., Neurological abnormalities in patients with schizophrenia or schizophreniform disorder at first admission to hospital: correlations with computerized tomography and regional cerebral blood flow findings, Acta Psychiatr Scand 1994;90:385–390; Sanders RD et al. Neurological examination abnormalities in neuroleptic-naïve patients with first-break schizophrenia: preliminary results, Am J Psychiatry 1994;151:1231–1233; Gupta S et al., Neurological soft signs in neuroleptic-naïve and neuroleptic-treated schizophrenic patients and in normal comparison subjects, Am J Psychiatry 1995;152:191–196; Flyct L et al., Neurological signs and psychomotor performance in patients with schizophrenia, their relatives and healthy controls, Psychiatry Res. 1999;86:113–129; Browne S et al., Determinants of neurological dysfunction in first episode schizophrenia, Psychol Med 2000;30:1433–1441; Krebs M-O et al., Validation and factorial structure of a standardized neurological examination assessing neurological soft signs in schizophrenia, Schizophr Res 2000;45:245–260; Krebs M-O et al., Disorganisation syndrome is correlated to sensory neurological soft signs in medicated and neuroleptic naïve schizophrenic patients (abstract), Schizophr Res 2002;53:232; Shibre T et al., Neurological soft signs (NSS) in 200 treatment-naïve cases with schizophrenia: a community-based study in a rural setting, Nord J Psychiatry 2002;56:425–431; Venkatasubramanian G et al., Neurological soft signs in never-treated schizophrenia, Acta Psychiatr Scand 2003;108:144–146; Keshavan MS et al., Diagnostic specificity and neuroanatomical validity of neurological abnormalities in first-episode psychoses, Am J Psychiatry 2003;160:1298–1304; Chen EY et al., Motor soft neurological signs in first episode schizophrenia: a two-year longitudinal study (abstract), Schizophr Res 2003;60:129; Whitty P et al., Prospective evaluation of neurological soft signs in first-episode schizophrenia in relation to psychopathology: state versus trait phenomena, Psychol Med 2003;33:1479–1484; Scheffer RE, Abnormal neurological signs at the onset of asychosis Schizophr Res 2004;70:19–26. Studies of neurological soft signs are especially useful in understanding the role of antipsychotic medications in schizophrenia. Studies done on patients with schizophrenia who were on and off medications at the time of testing suggest that the medications either have no effect on the presence of neurological soft signs or decrease such neurological findings. See Manschreck TC et al., Disturbed voluntary motor activity in schizophrenic disorder, Psychol Med 1982;12:73–84; Kolakowska T et al., Schizophrenia with good and poor outcome. III: Neurological ‘soft’ signs, cognitive impairment, and their clinical significance, Br J Psychiatry 1985;146:348–357; Goldstein G, Sanders RD, The effects of antipsychotic medication on neurological examination abnormalities in schizophrenia (abstract), Schizophr Res 2003;60:4.

Ho B-C, Cerebellar dysfunction in neuroleptic naïve schizophrenia patients: clinical, cognitive, and neuroanatomic correlates of cerebellar neurologic signs, Biol Psychiatry 2004;55:1146–1153.

3. Neuropsychological Abnormalities

For almost two centuries, it has been observed that individuals with schizophrenia have deficits in some neuropsychological functions, especially memory, attention, and planning (also called executive function). Since 1994, 10 studies have been carried out on patients who had never received antipsychotic medications, confirming these observations. For example, Brickman et al. compared 29 never-medicated adolescents with schizophrenia to 17 matched unaffected controls and reported that the patient group performed significantly worse than the unaffected controls, especially on memory, attention, and executive functioning. In addition to these 10 studies, 3 other research groups studied individuals with first-episode schizophrenia, some of whom had never been medicated and some of whom had been briefly medicated, and reported that the never-medicated patients had significant neuropsychological deficits.

See Brickman AM et al., Neuropsychological functioning in first-break, never-medicated adolescents with psychosis, J Nerv Ment 2004;192:615–622. See also Saykin AJ et al., Neuropsychological deficits in neuroleptic naïve patients with first-episode schizophrenia, Arch Gen Psychiatry 1994;51:124–131; McCreadie RG et al., Poor memory, negative symptoms and abnormal movements in never-treated Indian patients with schizophrenia, Br J Psychiatry 1997;171:360–363; Lussier I, Stip E, Memory and attention deficits in drug naïve patients with schizophrenia, 2001;48:45–55; Schuepbach D et al., Selective attention in neuroleptic-naïve first-episode schizophrenia: a two-year follow-up (abstract), Biol Psychiatry 2002;51;118S; Kerns JG et al., Context-processing deficits and decreased prefrontal cortex activity: specific associations with unmedicated, first-episode Schizophrenia and with disorganization symptoms (abstract), Schizophr Res 2003;60:225; Hill SK et al. Impairment of verbal memory and learning in antipsychotic-naïve patients with first-episode schizophrenia, Schizophr Res 2004;68:127–136; Good KP et al., The relationship of neuropsychological test performance with the PANSS in antipsychotic naïve, first-episode psychosis patients, Schizophr Res 2004;68:11–19; Krieger S, Executive function and cognitive subprocesses in first-episode, drug-naïve schizophrenia: an analysis of N-back performance, Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:1206–1208; Snitz BE et al., Lateral and medial hypofrontality in first-episode schizophrenia: functional activity in a medication-naïve state and effects of short-term atypical antipsychotic treatment, Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:2322–2329.

Censits DM et al., Neuropsychological evidence supporting a neurodevelopmental model of schizophrenia: a longitudinal study, Schizophr Res 1997;24:289–298; Mohamed S et al., Generalized cognitive deficits in schizophrenia: a study of first-episode patients, Arch Gen Psychiatry 1999;56:749–754; Riley EM et al., Neuropsychological functioning in first-episode psychosis—evidence of specific deficits, Schizophr Res 2000;42:47–55. There are recent studies that show that antipsychotic medications improve neuropsychological functioning; see, for example, Keefe RS et al., The effects of atypical antipsychotic drugs on neurocognitive impairment in schizophrenia: a review and meta-analysis, Schizophr Bull 1999;25:201–222; Meltzer HY, McGurk SR, The effects of clozapine, risperidone, and olanzapine on cognitive function in schizophrenia, Schizophr Bull 1999;25:233–255; Merlo MCG et al., Improvement of cognitive functions in acute first-episode psychosis treated with risperidone (abstract), Schizophr Res 2002;53:27.

4. Neurophysiological Abnormalities

Electrical impulses are one method used to communicate between brain cells. As noted previously, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been used for many years to assess brain function in schizophrenia. Consistent with past studies, two recent studies used EEGs to examine sleep patterns in never-medicated individuals with schizophrenia, and both reported more abnormalities in the patients compared to the unaffected controls.

Another technique commonly used in psychiatric research to measure neurophysiological function is a type of electrical impulse called an evoked potential, elicited by auditory, visual, or sensory input. For example, a startle reflex, measured electrically, may be evoked by a loud sound. Three recent studies of evoked potentials have been carried out on never-medicated individuals with schizophrenia; all three showed significantly more abnormalities in the patients than in unaffected controls. Another measure of neurophysiological brain function is the recently developed transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), in which the brain is stimulated using magnets. A study of 21 neuroleptic-naïve individuals with schizophrenia reported them to be significantly different from 21 unaffected controls on some TMS measures. These studies suggest abnormal electrical and magnetic circuits in the brains of individuals with schizophrenia, evidence of neurophysiological dysfunction.

Ganguli R et al., Electroencephalographic sleep in young, never-medicated schizophrenics, Arch Gen Psychiatry 1987;44:36–44; Poulin J et al., Sleep architecture and its clinical correlates in first episode and neuroleptic-naïve patients with schizophrenia, Schizophr Res 2003;62;147–153.

Mackeprang T et al., Effects of antipsychotics on prepulse inhibition of the startle response in drug-naïve schizophrenic patients, Biol Psychiatry 2002;52;863–873; Ludewig K et al., Deficits in prepulse inhibition and habituation in never-medicated, first-episode schizophrenia Biol Psychiatry 2003;54:121–128. Another recent study included five patients who had never been medicated and two others who had been off all medication for more than six months. It showed that antipsychotic medication improves neurophysiological function, as measured by the acoustic startle reflex; see Weike AI et al., Effective neuroleptic medication removes prepulse inhibition deficits in schizophrenia patients, Biol Psychiatry 2000;47:61–70; Valkonen-Korhonen M, Altered auditory processing in acutely psychotic never-medicated first-episode patients, Brain Res Cogn Brain Res 2003;17:747–758.

Eichhammer P et al., Cortical excitability in neuroleptic-naïve first-episode schizophrenic patients, Schizophr Res 2004;67:253–259.

5. Cerebral Metabolic Abnormalities

The measurement of cerebral metabolic activity is comparatively new and technically complex. Three ways of doing this are by positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Since it is known that antipsychotic medications can affect these tests, it is important to use individuals who have not been treated whenever possible.

Since 1991, 21 studies have examined cerebral metabolic abnormalities in individuals with schizophrenia never treated with antipsychotic medications. Representative of these studies is one by Braus et al., in which 12 never-medicated patients with schizophrenia were compared to 11 unaffected controls by functional MRI. According to the researchers: “In comparison with control subjects, patients showed reduced activation in the right thalamus, the right prefrontal cortex, and the parietal lobe . . . bilaterally.” Of the 21 studies reported to date, all except one found more cerebral metabolic abnormalities in the individuals with schizophrenia compared to the controls.

Loeber RT et al., Cerebellar blood volume in bipolar patients correlates with medication, Biol Psychiatry 2002;51:370–376.

Braus DF et al., Sensory information processing in neuroleptic-naïve first-episode schizophrenic patients: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2002;59:696–701. See also Cleghorn M et al., Apomorphine effects on brain metabolism in neuroleptic-naïve schizophrenic patients, Psychiatry Res: Neuroimaging 1991;40:135–153; Buchsbaum MS et al., Frontostriatal disorder of cerebral metabolism in never-medicated schizophrenics, Arch Gen Psychiatry 1992;49:935–942; Shihabuddin L et al., Dorsal striatal size, shape, and metabolic rate in never-medicated and previously medicated schizophrenics performing a verbal learning task, Arch Gen Psychiatry 1998;55:235–243; Laruelle M et al., Increased dopamine transmission in schizophrenia: relationship to illness phases, Biol Psychiatry 1999;46:56–72; Barch DM et al., Selective deficits in prefrontal cortex function in medication-naïve patients with schizophrenia, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2001;58:280–288; Clark C et al., Regional cerebral glucose metabolism in never-medicated patients with schizophrenia, Can J Psychiatry 2001;46;340–345; Brewer WJ et al., Functional neuroimaging follow-up of stroop performance in neuroleptic-naïve first-episode psychosis (abstract), Schizophr Res 2002;53(suppl):109; Karlsson P et al., PET study of d 1 dopamine receptor binding in neuroleptic-naïve patients with schizophrenia, Am J Psychiatry 2002;159:761–767; Tauscher J et al., Brain serotonin 5-HT 1A receptor binding in schizophrenia measured by positron emission tomography and ( 11C)WAY-100635, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2002;59:514–520; Carter CS et al., Prospective longitudinal fmri study of prefrontal cortex based context processing in never medicated first-episode schizophrenia (abstract), Schizophr Res 2003;60:214; Théberge Jean et al., Glutamate and glutamine measured with 4.0 T Proton MRS in never-treated patients with schizophrenia and healthy volunteers, Am J Psychiatry 2002;159;1944–1946; Tuppurainen H et al., Extrastriatal dopamine D 2/3 receptor density and distribution in drug-naïve schizophrenic patients, Mol Psychiatry 2003;8:453–455; Stanley JA et al., Age and comorbidity effects in first-episode never-medicated schizophrenia subjects: an in vivo 1H spectroscopy study (abstract), Biol Psychiatry 2003;53:178S; Jayakumar PN et al., Membrane phospholipid abnormalities of basal ganglia in never-treated schizophrenia: a 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy study, Biol Psychiatry 2003;54:491–494; Fannon D et al., Selective deficit of hippocampal N-acetylaspartate in antipsychotic-naïve patients with schizophrenia, Biol Psychiatry 2003;54:587–598; Hsiao M-C et al., Dopamine transporter change in drug-naïve schizophrenia: an imaging study with 99mTc-TRODAT-1, Schizophr Res 2003;65:39–46; Gangadhar BN et al., Basal ganglia high-energy phosphate metabolism in neuroleptic-naïve patients with schizophrenia: a 31-phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopic study, Am J Psychiatry 2004;161:1304–1306; Lehrer DS et al., Thalamic and prefrontal fdg uptake in never medicated patients with schizophrenia Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:931–938; Talvik M et al., Decreased thalamic D 2/D 3 receptor binding in drug-naïve patients with schizophrenia: a PET study with [ 11C]FLB 457, Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 2003;6:361–370; Fagerlund B et al., global and stable deficits of verbal memory in drug-naïve, first-episode schizophrenia: lack of efficacy of antipsychotics (abstract), Nord J Psychiatry 2005;59:410.

It should also be emphasized that none of the cerebral abnormalities cited above are specific to schizophrenia. All of them can be found in some other brain diseases and occasionally in normal individuals, although they occur statistically more frequently in individuals with schizophrenia. Thus, the brain abnormalities found in schizophrenia are similar to the tremor seen in many patients with Parkinson’s disease. Tremor may also be found in other brain diseases; it occurs in some normal individuals [benign intention tremor], but it occurs statistically much more frequently in Parkinson’s disease.

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