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Hypofrontality revisited: a high resolution single photon emission computed tomography study in schizophrenia.
  1. K P Ebmeier,
  2. S M Lawrie,
  3. D H Blackwood,
  4. E C Johnstone,
  5. G M Goodwin
  1. MRC Brain Metabolism Unit, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Morningside Park, UK.

    Abstract

    Hypofrontality or reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, measured as reduced frontal perfusion or glucose uptake, has gained the status of an established finding in the medical literature on schizophrenia. Many relevant studies, however, have potential sources of bias, such as small subject numbers, or unreliable performance of activation tasks by the patients during the scanning procedure. Seventy patients with non-affective and non-organic psychoses were recruited--most qualifying for DSM III-R schizophrenia or schizophreniform psychosis (n = 60)--together with 20 healthy volunteers. They underwent single photon emission computed tomography with 99mTc-exametazime, carried out at rest. Tracer uptake was normalised to the occipital cortex. Group differences in tracer uptake were predicted in anterior regions of interest (prefrontal cortex and mesial frontal/cingulate cortex). Actively psychotic (including schizophrenic) patients not taking any drugs showed increased uptake in the prefrontal cortex. Reduced tracer uptake occurred in the mesial frontal cortex of schizophrenic patients, particularly if they were taking drugs. Relatively increased prefrontal tracer uptake associated with relatively decreased mesial frontal uptake characterised the patients in comparison with the controls. Generalised hypofrontality is, therefore, not a feature of schizophrenic patients at rest whether taking drugs or not.

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