Diametrical relationship between gray and white matter volumes in autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia

Serge A. Mitelman, Marie Cecile Bralet, M. Mehmet Haznedar, Eric Hollander, Lina Shihabuddin, Erin A. Hazlett, Monte S. Buchsbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia have been variously characterized as separate nosological entities with overlapping deficits in social cognition or diametrical extremes of a phenotypic continuum. This study aimed to determine how these models apply to comparative morphometric data. MRI scans of the brain were obtained in 49 subjects with schizophrenia, 20 subjects with autism and 39 healthy controls. Images were parcellated into 40 Brodmann areas and entered into repeated-measures ANOVA for between-group comparison of global and localized gray and white matter volumes. A pattern of lower gray mater volumes and greater white matter volumes was found in subjects with schizophrenia in comparison to subjects with autism. For both gray and white matter, this pattern was most pronounced in regions associated with motor-premotor and anterior frontal cortex, anterior cingulate, fusiform, superior and middle temporal gyri. Patient groups tended to diverge from healthy controls in opposite directions, with greater-than-normal gray matter volumes and lower-than-normal white matter volumes in subjects with autism and reversed patterns in subjects with schizophrenia. White matter reductions in subjects with autism were seen in posterior frontal lobe and along the cingulate arch. Normal hemispheric asymmetry in the temporal lobe was effaced in subjects with autism and schizophrenia, especially in the latter. Nearly identical distribution of changes and diametrically divergent volumetry suggest that autism and schizophrenia may occupy opposite extremes of the same cognitive continuum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1823-1835
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Asperger’s disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Diametrical trade-off diseases
  • MRI
  • Schizophrenia
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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