The hemispheres of the human brain are anatomically and functionally asymmetric. Many cognitive and motor functions such as language and handedness are lateralized. In this review, we discuss the principles of laterality and brain asymmetry in relation to schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is one of the most disabling forms of mental illness. One important challenge is to develop and set up biological markers, which can accurately identify at-risk individuals in preclinical stages and thus improve the effects of early intervention strategies. The concept of hemispheric laterality plays a central role in current neuropsychological and pathophysiological models of schizophrenia. Recent research reflects an increasing interest in the molecular and population genetics of laterality and its potential use as biological marker for the illness.
The review is an overview of literature from the 1990’s on cerebral asymmetry in schizophrenia. We critically discuss the use of cerebral asymmetry for biomarker research, regarding diagnosis improvements, the improvement of psychopharmacology and the prediction of conversion in at-risk individuals. We propose that abnormal cerebral asymmetry is an attractive biomarker candidate for schizophrenia that could index changes in a range of pathophysiological pathways.