Age has been shown to have an impact on both grey (GM) and white matter (WM) volume, with a steeper slope of age-related decline in schizophrenia compared to healthy controls. In schizophrenia, the relation between age and brain volume is further complicated by factors such as lower intelligence, antipsychotic medication, and cannabis use, all of which have been shown to have independent effects on brain volume. In a study of first-episode, antipsychotic-naïve schizophrenia patients (N = 54) and healthy controls (N = 56), we examined the effects of age on whole brain measures of GM and WM volume, and whether these relationships were moderated by schizophrenia and intelligence (IQ). Secondarily, we examined lifetime cannabis use as a moderator of the relationship between age and brain volume. Schizophrenia patients had lower GM volumes than healthy controls but did not differ on WM volume. We found an age effect on GM indicating that increasing age was associated with lower GM volumes, which did not differ between groups. IQ did not have a direct effect on GM, but showed a trend-level interaction with age, suggesting a greater impact of age with lower IQ. There were no age effects on WM volume, but a direct effect of IQ, with higher IQ showing an association with larger WM volume. Lifetime cannabis use did not alter these findings significantly. This study points to effects of schizophrenia on GM early in the illness, before antipsychotic treatment is initiated, suggesting that WM changes may occur later in the disease process.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research: Cognition
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


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