A review of structural MRI and diffusion tensor imaging in schizotypal personality disorder

Erin A. Hazlett, Kim E. Goldstein, Jeanine C. Kolaitis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Individuals with schizotypal personality disorder (SPD) share genetic, phenomenologic, and cognitive abnormalities with people diagnosed with schizophrenia. To date, 15 structural MRI studies of the brain have examined size, and 3 diffusion tensor imaging studies have examined white matter connectivity in SPD. Overall, both types of structural neuroimaging modalities have shown temporal lobe abnormalities similar to those observed in schizophrenia, while frontal lobe regions appear to show more sparing. This intriguing pattern suggests that frontal lobe sparing may suppress psychosis, which is consistent with the idea of a possible neuroprotective factor. In this paper, we review these 18 studies and discuss whether individuals with SPD who both resemble and differ from schizophrenia patients in their phenomenology, share some or all of the structural brain imaging characteristics of schizophrenia. We attempt to group the MRI abnormalities in SPD into three patterns: 1) a spectrum of severity-abnormalities are similar to those observed in schizophrenia but not so severe; 2) a spectrum of region-abnormalities affecting some, but not all, brain regions affected in schizophrenia; and 3) a spectrum of compensation-abnormalities reflecting greater-than-normal white matter volume, possibly serving as a buffer or compensatory mechanism protecting the individual with SPD from the frank psychosis observed in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Brain volume
  • Cingulate
  • Cingulum
  • DTI
  • Diffusion tensor
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Fractional anisotropy
  • Frontal lobe
  • Gray matter
  • MRI
  • Morphometry
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizophrenia spectrum
  • Schizotypal personality disorder
  • Schizotypy
  • Superior temporal gyrus
  • Temporal lobe
  • White matter


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