July 1988

Physiological Dysfunction of Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex in SchizophreniaIV. Further Evidence for Regional and Behavioral Specificity

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical Brain Disorders Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Intramural Research Program, St Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, DC.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988;45(7):616-622. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1988.01800310020002

• In previous studies we found that patients with chronic schizophrenia had lower regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) than did normal subjects during performance of the Wisconsin Card Sort Test, an abstract reasoning task linked to DLPFC function. This was not the case during less complex tasks. To examine further whether this finding represented regionally circumscribed pathophysiology or a more general correlate of abstract cognition, 24 medication-free patients and 25 age- and sexmatched normal control subjects underwent rCBF measurements with the xenon 133 technique while they performed two tasks: Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM) and an active baseline control task. While performing RPM, normal subjects activated posterior cortical areas over baseline, but did not activate DLPFC, as had been seen during the Wisconsin Card Sort Test. Like normal subjects, patients showed maximal rCBF elevations posteriorly and, moreover, they had no significant DLPFC or other cortical deficit while performing RPM. These results suggest that DLPFC dysfunction in schizophrenia is linked to pathophysiology of a regionally specific neural system rather than to global cortical dysfunction, and that this pathophysiology is most apparent under prefrontally specific cognitive demand.