The planum temporale, located on the posterior and superior surface of the temporal lobe, is a brain region thought to be a biological substrate of language and possibly implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. To investigate further the role of planum temporale abnormalities in schizophrenia, we measured gray matter volume underlying the planum temporale from high spatial resolution magnetic resonance imaging techniques.
Sixteen male patients with chronic schizophrenia and 16 control subjects were matched for age, sex, handedness, and parental socioeconomic status. Magnetic resonance imaging images were obtained from a 1.5-T magnet.
Gray matter volume was significantly reduced in the left planum temporale (28.2%) in schizophrenic patients compared with normal controls. Schizophrenic patients showed a reversal of the left greater than right planum temporale asymmetry found in normal controls. Heschl's gyrus (primary auditory cortex) showed no differences between the left and right sides in either group. Of note, the Suspiciousness/Persecution subscale score of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale was associated with reduced left planum temporale volume in schizophrenic patients.
Patients with schizophrenia have reduced left planum temporale gray matter and a reversal of planum temporale asymmetry, which may underlie an impairment in language processing and symptoms of suspiciousness or persecution characteristic of schizophrenia.