Impaired verbal learning is associated with larger caudate volumes in early onset schizophrenia spectrum disorders
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Original versionPLoS ONE 2015, 10:e0130435(7) 10.1371/journal.pone.0130435
Background: Both brain structural abnormalities and neurocognitive impairments are core features of schizophrenia. We have previously reported enlargements in subcortical brain structure volumes and impairment of neurocognitive functioning as measured by the MATRICS Cognitive Consensus Battery (MCCB) in early onset schizophrenia spectrum disorders (EOS). To our knowledge, no previous study has investigated whether neurocognitive performance and volumetric abnormalities in subcortical brain structures are related in EOS. Methods: Twenty-four patients with EOS and 33 healthy controls (HC) were included in the study. Relationships between the caudate nucleus, the lateral and fourth ventricles volumes and neurocognitive performance were investigated with multivariate linear regression analyses. Intracranial volume, age, antipsychotic medication and IQ were included as independent predictor-variables. Results: The caudate volume was negatively correlated with verbal learning performance uniquely in the EOS group (r=-.454, p = .034). There were comparable positive correlations between the lateral ventricular volume and the processing speed, attention and reasoning and problem solving domains for both the EOS patients and the healthy controls. Antipsychotic medication was related to ventricular enlargements, but did not affect the brain structure-function relationship. Conclusion: Enlargement of the caudate volume was related to poorer verbal learning performance in patients with EOS. Despite a 32% enlargement of the lateral ventricles in the EOS group, associations to processing speed, attention and reasoning and problem solving were similar for both the EOS and the HC groups.