September 29, 2021

Lack of Sexual Dimorphism in Language Processing Gray Matter Regions in Early Psychosis

Emily Johns, AB

Additional Authors: Amanda E. Lyall, Ph.D., Johanna Seitz-Holland, M.D., Ph.D., Sylvain Bouix, Ph.D., Michael J. Coleman, M.A., Marek Kubicki, M.D., Ph.D., Ofer Pasternak, Ph.D., Raquelle Mesholam-Gately, Ph.D., Eve Lewandowski, Ph.D., Daphne Holt, M.D., Ph.D., Matcheri S. Keshavan, M.D., Dost Ongur, M.D., Ph.D., Alan Breier, M.D., Martha E. Shenton, Ph.D.

It is well established that individuals with psychosis show diminished anatomical lateralization in language processing brain regions compared to healthy controls. However, there are few neuroimaging studies that explore sex-related differences in lateralization related to language processing in early course psychosis. Therefore, we characterized the variation in hemispheric lateralization and cortical thickness of regions implicated in language processing to determine if the presence and extent of sexually dimorphic cortical characteristics are similar across groups. Cortical thickness of 3 bilaterally represented language processing regions approximating to Geschwind’s, Wernicke’s, and Broca’s areas was compared between 134 individuals suffering from early psychosis (EP) and 67 healthy individuals (HC) matched 2:1 on age, sex, handedness, and education. Welch’s t-tests revealed a significantly diminished left lateralization only in Broca’s area in EP compared to HC, yet there was no group by sex interaction. Subsequent morphological analyses of cortical thickness for each bilateral region revealed greater right and left cortical thickness in Wernicke’s area in HC males compared to HC females. This was not seen when comparing EP males and EP females. This suggests that individuals suffering from early psychosis lack the sex-related structural differences that are characteristic of the normal, healthy brain.

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