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Abnormalities in amygdala volume are well-established in schizophrenia and commonly reported in bipolar disorders. However, the specificity of volumetric differences in individual amygdala nuclei is largely unknown. Patients with schizophrenia disorders (SCZ, N = 452, mean age 30.7 ± 9.2 [SD] years, females 44.4%), bipolar disorders (BP, N = 316, 33.7 ± 11.4, 58.5%), and healthy controls (N = 753, 34.1 ± 9.1, 40.9%) underwent T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. Total amygdala, nuclei, and intracranial volume (ICV) were estimated with Freesurfer (v6.0.0). Analysis of covariance and multiple linear regression models, adjusting for age, age2, ICV, and sex, were fitted to examine diagnostic group and subgroup differences in volume, respectively. Bilateral total amygdala and all nuclei volumes, except the medial and central nuclei, were significantly smaller in patients relative to controls. The largest effect sizes were found for the basal nucleus, accessory basal nucleus, and cortico-amygdaloid transition area (partial η2 > 0.02). The diagnostic subgroup analysis showed that reductions in amygdala nuclei volume were most widespread in schizophrenia, with the lateral, cortical, paralaminar, and central nuclei being solely reduced in this disorder. The right accessory basal nucleus was marginally smaller in SCZ relative to BP (t = 2.32, P = .05). Our study is the first to demonstrate distinct patterns of amygdala nuclei volume reductions in a well-powered sample of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Volume differences in the basolateral complex (lateral, basal, and accessory basal nuclei), an integral part of the threat processing circuitry, were most prominent in schizophrenia.

Original publication




Journal article


Schizophr Bull

Publication Date





1431 - 1441


amygdala, bipolar disorder, neuroimaging, other psychotic disorders, schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia