Cortical surface complexity in frontal and temporal areas varies across subgroups of schizophrenia



Schizophrenia is assumed to be a neurodevelopmental disorder, which might involve disturbed development of the cerebral cortex, especially in frontal and medial temporal areas. Based on a novel spherical harmonics approach to measuring complexity of cortical folding, we applied a measure based on fractal dimension (FD) to investigate the heterogeneity of regional cortical surface abnormalities across subgroups of schizophrenia defined by symptom profiles. A sample of 87 patients with DSM-IV schizophrenia was divided into three subgroups (based on symptom profiles) with predominantly negative (n = 31), disorganized (n = 23), and paranoid (n = 33) symptoms and each compared to 108 matched healthy controls. While global FD measures were reduced in the right hemisphere of the negative and paranoid subgroups, regional analysis revealed marked heterogeneity of regional FD alterations. The negative subgroup showed most prominent reductions in left anterior cingulate, superior frontal, frontopolar, as well as right superior frontal and superior parietal cortices. The disorganized subgroup showed reductions in bilateral ventrolateral/orbitofrontal cortices, and several increases in the left hemisphere, including inferior parietal, middle temporal, and midcingulate areas. The paranoid subgroup showed only few changes, including decreases in the right superior parietal and left fusiform region, and increase in the left posterior cingulate cortex. Our findings suggest regional heterogeneity of cortical folding complexity, which might be related to biological subgroups of schizophrenia with differing degrees of altered cortical developmental pathology. Hum Brain Mapp 35:1691–1699, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.