Subcortical structure alterations impact language processing in individuals with schizophrenia and those at high genetic risk

Xiaobo Li, Margaret Black, Shugao Xia, Chenyang Zhan, Hilary C. Bertisch, Craig A. Branch, Lynn E. DeLisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: Cortical structural and functional anomalies have been found to associate with language impairments in both schizophrenia patients and genetic high risk individuals for developing schizophrenia. However, subcortical structures that contribute to language processing haven't been well studied in this population, and thus became the main objective of this study. Method: We examined structural MRI data from 20 patients with schizophrenia, 21 individuals at genetic high risk, and 48 controls. Surface shape and volume differences of 6 subcortical structures that are involved in language processing, including nuclei pallidum, putamen, caudate, amygdala, thalamus, and hippocampus from both hemispheres, were compared between groups. Performance scores of language-associated cognitive tests were obtained to identify relationships of subcortical structures to language-related behaviors. Results: Significantly reduced volumes of both the left and right side caudate nuclei, thalami and right side amygdala were shown in patients when compared with controls. Very interestingly, the high risk group demonstrated significantly increased correlations between volumes of left side pallidum nucleus and bilateral thalami and language-related cognitive test scores when compared to controls. Conclusions: This study furthers our understanding of subcortical structural alterations in schizophrenia and high risk individuals, and suggests the contribution of subcortical structures to the language impairments that may serve as an early sign for impending development of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Genetic high-risk
  • Language processing
  • Schizophrenia
  • Structural MRI
  • Subcortical structures


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