Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2012 Apr;10(1):13-24.

Diffusion Tensor Imaging Findings of White Matter Changes in First Episode Schizophrenia: A Systematic Review

  • 1Institute of Mental Health/Woodbridge Hospital, Singapore.
  • 2A*STAR-NUS Clinical Imaging Research Centre, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
  • 3Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore.


Earlier structural magnetic resonance imaging in schizophrenia have noted smaller white matter volumes in diverse brain regions and recent diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies have allowed better elucidation of changes in brain white matter integrity within the illness. As white matter abnormalities have been reported to occur early in the course of schizophrenia, we systematically review extant DTI studies of anomalies of white matter integrity in first episode schizophrenia (FES) up till October 2011. Overall, disruptions of white matter integrity were found in the cortical, subcortical brain regions and white matter associative and commissural tracts, suggesting that changes of cortical-subcortical white matter integrity were found at an early stage of the disorder. These changes in white matter integrity were correlated with specific cognitive deficits (verbal and spatial working memory) as well as psychopathology (positive more than negative symptoms) in patients with FES. The correlation of these white matter integrity changes with cognitive and phenomenological factors may shed light on neurobiological substrates underlying these clinical manifestations. Future studies need to validate these findings in larger samples of subjects and in different populations as well as chart the progress of these cerebral white matter changes over time so as to better appreciate their trajectory with illness course, treatment and chronicity.


Schizophrenia; Anisotropy; Diffusion tensor imaging; Psychopathology
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