The British Journal of Psychiatry


BACKGROUND Positron emission tomography (PET) studies have revealed functional left superior temporal gyrus (STG) abnormalities in symptomatic schizophrenia during word generation.

AIMS To discover if this dysfunction is present in asymptomatic schizophrenia. To determine whether, without concurrent symptomatology, schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder (BPD) are distinguishable by differing regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) patterns during word generation.

METHOD A PET verbal fluency protocol was applied to six patients with BPD in remission and six patients with asymptomatic schizophrenia. Analysis included 10 control subjects from a contemporaneous study.

RESULTS All groups showed relative reduction of rCBF in both superior temporal cortices. There were no quantitative differences in any group comparison. All groups exhibited negative covariation between rCBF in left prefrontal and right (but not left) temporal regions.

CONCLUSIONS Abnormal patterns of left STG function cannot be regarded as a trait marker for schizophrenia. Functional abnormalities may reflect aspects of mental state.