Researchers from Boston Healthcare System and Harvard University observed that anomalies in the part of the brain responsible for face recognition may play a role in schizophrenia. Recent studies have linked facial recognition to a part of the brain called the fusiform gyrus, located on lobes on both the left and right sides of the brain. This part of the brain helps us know who we are seeing and also what they may be thinking or feeling through their facial expressions. Other research has suggested schizophrenics may have problems recognizing faces and facial expressions, and this may be related to many of the social problems associated with the disease.
These researchers used MRIs to assess the volume of gray matter in the fusiform gyrus areas of the brains of patients suffering from a first episode of schizophrenia. Results for the patients were then compared to MRI results for a group of people experiencing a first episode of another psychiatric disorder and a group of people without psychiatric disorder.
The schizophrenics were found to have significantly less gray matter in the fusiform gyrus than both the people without psychiatric disorder and the people with another form of psychiatric disease. The deficit was most pronounced in the left fusiform gyrus, with schizophrenics having an 15 percent reduction compared to the other two groups. The researchers believe these findings suggest structural abnormalities in the brain are present in schizophrenia.