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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 45 (2003) 8, 507 - 515

Review article

Impaired connectivity in schizophrenia: abnormalities in brain white matter

B.D. Peters, L. de Haan, D.H. Linszen

background  The pathophysiology and symptomatology of schizophrenia might be related to disturbed communication or impaired connectivity between individual nerve cells and between regions of the brain. Regions of the brain communicate with each other via the axons, which form brain white matter.
objective
  To review the literature that reports results of studies on brain white matter in schizophrenia patients.
method
  The literature was reviewed with the help of Medline, using as key words 'schizophrenia', 'corpus callosum' and 'white matter'. Studies with structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and post-mortem studies were included.
results
  Twelve post-mortem and 36 MRI studies of brain white matter have produced conflicting results. One MRS study and 5 out of the 7 DTI studies point to disruption of the white matter in schizophrenia.
conclusion
  The abnormalities found in the white matter give some support to the hypothesis that schizophrenia is associated with impaired connectivity. More advanced MRI techniques like MRS and DTI may be better suited than sMRI to reveal and explain white matter abnormalities in patients with schizophrenia.

keywords connectivity, MRI, schizophrenia, white matter