Anterior vs Posterior Hippocampal Subfields in an Extended Psychosis Phenotype of Multidimensional Schizotypy in a Nonclinical Sample

Lili Sahakyan, Tina Meller, Ulrika Evermann, Simon Schmitt, Julia Katharina Pfarr, Jens Sommer, Thomas R. Kwapil, Igor Nenadic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous studies have implicated involvement of the hippocampus in the etiology and expression of schizophrenia-spectrum psychopathology, and reduced hippocampal volume is one of the most robust brain abnormalities reported in schizophrenia. Recent studies indicate that early stages of schizophrenia are specifically characterized by reductions in anterior hippocampal volume; however, studies have not examined hippocampal volume reductions in subclinical schizotypy. The present study was the first to examine the associations of positive, negative, and disorganized schizotypy dimensions with hippocampal subfield volumes in a large sample (n = 195) of nonclinically ascertained young adults, phenotyped using the Multidimensional Schizotypy Scale (MSS). Hippocampal subfields were analyzed from high-resolution 3 Tesla structural magnetic resonance imaging scans testing anatomical models, including anterior vs posterior regions and the cornu ammonis (CA), dentate gyrus (DG), and subiculum subfields separately for the left and right hemispheres. We demonstrate differential spatial effects across anterior vs posterior hippocampus segments across different dimensions of the schizotypy risk phenotype. The interaction of negative and disorganized schizotypy robustly predicted left hemisphere volumetric reductions for the anterior and total hippocampus, and anterior CA and DG, and the largest reductions were seen in participants high in negative and disorganized schizotypy. These findings extend previous early psychosis studies and together with behavioral studies of hippocampal-related memory impairments provide the basis for a dimensional neurobiological hippocampal model of schizophrenia risk. Subtle hippocampal subfield volume reductions may be prevalent prior to the onset of detectable prodromal clinical symptoms of psychosis and play a role in the etiology and development of such conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-218
Number of pages12
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • hippocampus
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • schizophrenia
  • schizotypy
  • subfields
  • volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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