By Benjamin K. Brent, Isabelle M. Rosso, Heidi W. Thermenos, Daphne J. Holt, Stephen V. Faraone, Nikos Makris, Ming T. Tsuang, and Larry J. Seidman | Schizophrenia Research | November 24, 2015
Structural alterations of the lateral temporal cortex (LTC) in association with memory impairments have been reported in schizophrenia. This study investigated whether alterations of LTC structure were linked with impaired facial and/or verbal memory in young first-degree relatives of people with schizophrenia and, thus, may be indicators of vulnerability to the illness.
Subjects included 27 non-psychotic, first-degree relatives of schizophrenia patients, and 48 healthy controls, between the ages of 13 and 28. Participants underwent high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 1.5 Tesla. The LTC was parcellated into superior temporal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, inferior temporal gyrus, and temporal pole. Total cerebral and LTC volumes were measured using semi-automated morphometry. The Wechsler Memory Scale — Third Edition and the Children’s Memory Scale — Third Edition assessed facial and verbal memory. General linear models tested for associations among LTC subregion volumes, familial risk and memory.
Compared with controls, relatives had significantly smaller bilateral middle temporal gyri. Moreover, right middle temporal gyral volume showed a significant positive association with delayed facial memory in relatives.
These results support the hypothesis that smaller middle temporal gyri are related to the genetic liability to schizophrenia and may be linked with reduced facial memory in persons at genetic risk for the illness. The findings add to the growing evidence that children at risk for schizophrenia on the basis of positive family history have cortical and subcortical structural brain abnormalities well before psychotic illness occurs.