Volumetric analysis of the pre-frontal regions: Findings in aging and schizophrenia
Frontal lobe dysfunction is thought to be involved in schizophrenia and age-associated cognitive decline. Frontal lobe volume changes have been investigated in these conditions using MRI, but results have been inconsistent. Few volumetric MRI protocols exist that divide the pre-frontal cortex into its sub-regions. In the present article, we describe a new method, which allows assessment of the superior, middle and inferior frontal gyrus, as well as the orbitofrontal and cingulate regions. The method uses multiple planes to help guide the anatomical decisions and combines this with a geometric approach utilizing readily apparent anatomical landmarks. Using this protocol, the frontal lobe volumes in young healthy subjects were contrasted with those of young schizophrenic patients and elderly healthy subjects (nine male subjects per group). The results showed that the method could be reproduced with high reliability (ricc ≥ 0.88-0.99). Schizophrenic as well as old subjects had specific significant reductions in the superior frontal gyrus and orbitofrontal regions compared with the young group. However, old and schizophrenic subjects did not differ from each another. No volume differences were observed in the other three regions assessed. Whether or not these volume reductions reflect a common pathological process remains to be investigated in future studies. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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