Sustained attention impairment correlates to gray matter decreases in first episode neuroleptic-naive schizophrenic patients.Neuroimage 2003; 19(2 Pt 1):365-75N
Impaired sustained attention seems to be a specific neuropsychological deficit that is closely linked to schizophrenia. Voxel based morphometry has emerged as a useful tool for the detection of subtle gray matter (GM) abnormalities. The aim of our study was to identify the cerebral regions related to the Identical-Pair version of the Continuous Performance Test (CPT-IP) performance in schizophrenic patients. The study included 13 right-handed, male, first-episode, paranoic, neuroleptic-naive schizophrenic patients and 13 matched controls. High-resolution whole-brain MR images were segmented and analyzed for the whole brain and for regions of interest (ROI) using SPM99. Furthermore, the correlation between CPT-IP performance and GM density was examined. Volumetric analysis of the thalami was also carried out. GM density analysis shown decreases in patients in anterior cingulate gyrus, left inferior frontal, right claustrum, left pulvinar, and dorsomedial bilateral thalamic nuclei, and caudate nuclei as well as left hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus. Thalamic ROIs revealed a strong correlation between groups differences. The thalamic GM density allowed a good individual classification. GM increases were detected in left insula, superior temporal gyrus, and putamen nucleus, and right supramarginal gyrus. Schizophrenic patients showed smaller left and right thalamic volumes. We found that GM density of the left thalamic nucleus, left angular, and supramarginal gyrus, and left inferior frontal and postcentral gyri correlated significantly with CPT-IP performance in patients but not in controls. Moreover, the restricted ROIs regression was strongly significant for both left and right thalamus. In summary, we provide evidence for the involvement of thalamic, inferior-parietal, and frontal regions in the attentional deficits observed in schizophrenic patients.