Replicating extensive brain structural heterogeneity in individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

Thomas Wolfers*, Jaroslav Rokicki, Dag Alnæs, Pierre Berthet, Ingrid Agartz, Seyed Mostafa Kia, Tobias Kaufmann, Mariam Zabihi, Torgeir Moberget, Ingrid Melle, Christian F. Beckmann, Ole A. Andreassen, Andre F. Marquand, Lars T. Westlye

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Identifying brain processes involved in the risk and development of mental disorders is a major aim. We recently reported substantial interindividual heterogeneity in brain structural aberrations among patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Estimating the normative range of voxel-based morphometry (VBM) data among healthy individuals using a Gaussian process regression (GPR) enables us to map individual deviations from the healthy range in unseen datasets. Here, we aim to replicate our previous results in two independent samples of patients with schizophrenia (n1 = 94; n2 = 105), bipolar disorder (n1 = 116; n2 = 61), and healthy individuals (n1 = 400; n2 = 312). In line with previous findings with exception of the cerebellum our results revealed robust group level differences between patients and healthy individuals, yet only a small proportion of patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder exhibited extreme negative deviations from normality in the same brain regions. These direct replications support that group level-differences in brain structure disguise considerable individual differences in brain aberrations, with important implications for the interpretation and generalization of group-level brain imaging findings to the individual with a mental disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2546-2555
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Brain Imaging
  • Heterogeneity
  • Individual Patient
  • Mental Disorders
  • Normative Modeling
  • Schizophrenia


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