Development and Psychopathology

Regular Articles

Gyrification and neural connectivity in schizophrenia

Tonya Whitea1a2 c1 and Claus C. Hilgetaga3a4

a1 Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam

a2 University of Minnesota

a3 Jacobs University Bremen

a4 Boston University


There is emerging evidence for a connection between the surface morphology of the brain and its underlying connectivity. The foundation for this relationship is thought to be established during brain development through the shaping influences of tension exerted by viscoelastic nerve fibers. The tension-based morphogenesis results in compact wiring that enhances efficient neural processing. Individuals with schizophrenia present with multiple symptoms that can include impaired thought, action, perception, and cognition. The global nature of these symptoms has led researchers to explore a more global disruption of neuronal connectivity as a theory to explain the vast array of clinical and cognitive symptoms in schizophrenia. If cerebral function and form are linked through the organization of neural connectivity, then a disruption in neural connectivity may also alter the surface morphology of the brain. This paper reviews developmental theories of gyrification and the potential interaction between gyrification and neuronal connectivity. Studies of gyrification abnormalities in children, adolescents, and adults with schizophrenia demonstrate a relationship between disrupted function and altered morphology in the surface patterns of the cerebral cortex. This altered form may provide helpful clues in understanding the neurobiological abnormalities associated with schizophrenia.

(Online publication January 24 2011)


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Tonya White, Afdeling Kinder-en Jeugdpsychiatrie, Erasmus Medical Centre, Sophia, kamer wk219, Postbus 2060, Rotterdam 3000 CB, The Netherlands; E-mail:


Support for this work was provided through NIMH Grant MH068540, a junior investigator award through the Blowitz–Ridgeway Foundation, the Essel Foundation through the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders, and the Mind Research Network. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments and suggestions.