Structural imaging techniques in schizophrenia

Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 05/01/2012

Structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging represents a useful tool in understanding the biological underpinnings of schizophrenia and in planning focused interventions, thus assisting clinicians especially in the early phases of the illness.


  • The authors resumed and explained the most popular post-processing methods for structural MRI (sMRI) data applied in psychiatry and their main contributions to the comprehension of the biological basis of schizophrenia.


  • The region-of-interest (ROI) technique allows to investigate specific brain region size by manual tracing; it is anatomically precise and requires a priori hypothesis, but also it is time-consuming and operator-dependent.
  • The voxel-based morphometry (VBM) detects gray matter density across the whole brain by comparing voxel to voxel; it is operator-independent, does not require a priori hypothesis, and is relatively fast; however, it is limited by multiple comparisons and poor anatomical definition.
  • Finally, computational neuroanatomical analyses have recently been applied to automatically discriminate subjects with schizophrenia from healthy subjects on the basis of MRI images.

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