L. Ronan, N. L. Voets, M. Hough, C. Mackay, N. Roberts, J. Suckling, E. Bullmore, A. James, P. C. Fletcher


1095-9572 (Electronic)1053-8119 (Linking)

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Brain Mapping Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

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Several studies have sought to test the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia through analysis of cortical gyrification. However, to date, results have been inconsistent. A possible reason for this is that gyrification measures at the centimeter scale may be insensitive to subtle morphological changes at smaller scales. The lack of consistency in such studies may impede further interpretation of cortical morphology as an aid to understanding the etiology of schizophrenia. In this study we developed a new approach, examining whether millimeter-scale measures of cortical curvature are sensitive to changes in fundamental geometric properties of the cortical surface in schizophrenia. We determined and compared millimeter-scale and centimeter-scale curvature in three separate case-control studies; specifically two adult groups and one adolescent group. The datasets were of different sizes, with different ages and gender-spreads. The results clearly show that millimeter-scale intrinsic curvature measures were more robust and consistent in identifying reduced gyrification in patients across all three datasets. To further interpret this finding we quantified the ratio of expansion in the upper and lower cortical layers. The results suggest that reduced gyrification in schizophrenia is driven by a reduction in the expansion of upper cortical layers. This may plausibly be related to a reduction in short-range connectivity.