People diagnosed with schizophrenia experience reductions in brain volume that increase over time, and the amount of those reductions increases in proportion to the quantities of antipsychotics taken and not symptom severity, according to research reported in PLOS One. Investigators from the University of Oulu in Finland performed brain scans on 33 participants diagnosed with schizophrenia and 71 control participants over a ten-year period, and found reductions in the antipsychotic users especially pronounced in the temporal lobe and periventricular area.
Even after adjusting for alcohol use and weight gain, the researchers found that “mean annual whole brain volume reduction was 0.69% in schizophrenia, and 0.49% in controls.”
“Symptom severity, functioning level, and decline in cognition were not associated with brain volume reduction in schizophrenia,” stated the researchers. “The amount of antipsychotic medication… over the follow-up period predicted brain volume loss.”