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BACKGROUND: There is considerable evidence that white matter abnormalities play a key role in the pathogenesis of a number of major psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Few studies, however, have compared white matter abnormalities early in the course of the illness. METHODS: A total of 102 children and adolescents participated in the study, including 43 with early-onset schizophrenia, 13 with early-onset bipolar affective disorder, 17 with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and 29 healthy controls. Diffusion tensor imaging scans were obtained on all children and the images were assessed for the presence of non-spatially overlapping regions of white matter differences, a novel algorithm known as the pothole approach. RESULTS: Patients with early-onset schizophrenia and early-onset bipolar affective disorder had a significantly greater number of white matter potholes compared to controls, but the total number of potholes did not differ between the two groups. The volumes of the potholes were significantly larger in patients with early-onset bipolar affective disorder compared to the early-onset schizophrenia group. Children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder showed no differences in the total number of white matter potholes compared to controls. CONCLUSIONS: White matter abnormalities in early-onset schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder are more global in nature, whereas children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder do not show widespread differences in FA.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Psychiatry

Publication Date





205 - 213


Adolescents, Children, Diffusion tensor imaging, Early-onset schizophrenia, Potholes, Adolescent, Bipolar Disorder, Brain, Child, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Mood Disorders, Neural Pathways, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia, White Matter