Positive symptoms associate with cortical thinning in the superior temporal gyrus via the ENIGMA Schizophrenia consortium

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Abstract

Objective:

Based on the role of the superior temporal gyrus (STG) in auditory processing, language comprehension and self-monitoring, this study aimed to investigate the relationship between STG cortical thickness and positive symptom severity in schizophrenia.

Method:

This prospective meta-analysis includes data from 1987 individuals with schizophrenia collected at seventeen centres around the world that contribute to the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. STG thickness measures were extracted from T1-weighted brain scans using FreeSurfer. The study performed a meta-analysis of effect sizes across sites generated by a model predicting left or right STG thickness with a positive symptom severity score (harmonized SAPS or PANSS-positive scores), while controlling for age, sex and site. Secondary models investigated relationships between antipsychotic medication, duration of illness, overall illness severity, handedness and STG thickness.

Results:

Positive symptom severity was negatively related to STG thickness in both hemispheres (left: βstd = −0.052; P = 0.021; right: βstd = −0.073; P = 0.001) when statistically controlling for age, sex and site. This effect remained stable in models including duration of illness, antipsychotic medication or handedness.

Conclusion:

Our findings further underline the important role of the STG in hallmark symptoms in schizophrenia. These findings can assist in advancing insight into symptom-relevant pathophysiological mechanisms in schizophrenia.

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