The Relationship of Intellectual Functioning and Cognitive Performance to Brain Structure in Schizophrenia

Letícia Sanguinetti Czepielewski, Lei Wang, Clarissa S. Gama, Deanna M. Barch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background: Schizophrenia (SZ) is often characterized by cognitive and intellectual impairment. However, there is much heterogeneity across individuals, suggesting different trajectories of the illness. Recent findings have shown brain volume differences across subgroups of individuals with psychosis (SZ and bipolar disorder), such that those with intellectual and cognitive impairments presented evidence of early cerebral disruption, while those with cognitive but not intellectual impairments showed evidence of progressive brain abnormalities. Our aim was to investigate the relations of cognition and intellectual functioning with brain structure abnormalities in a sample of SZ compared to unaffected individuals. Methods: 92 individuals with SZ and 94 healthy controls part of the Northwestern University Schizophrenia Data and Software Tool (NUSDAST) underwent neuropsychological assessment and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Individuals with SZ were divided into subgroups according their estimated premorbid crystallized intellectual (ePMC-IQ) and cognitive performance. Brain volumes differences were investigated across groups. Results: SZ with ePMC-IQ and cognitive impairments had reduced total brain volume (TBV), intracranial volume (ICV), TBV corrected for ICV, and cortical gray matter volume, as well as reduced cortical thickness, and insula volumes. SZ with cognitive impairment but intact ePMC-IQ showed only reduced cortical gray matter volume and cortical thickness. Conclusions: These data provide additional evidence for heterogeneity in SZ. Impairments in cognition associated with reduced ePMC-IQ were related to evidence of broad brain structural alterations, including suggestion of early cerebral disruption. In contrast, impaired cognitive functioning in the context of more intact intellectual functioning was associated with cortical alterations that may reflect neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-364
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • IQ
  • MRI
  • cognition
  • heterogeneity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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