Schizophrenia is a common severe psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 1% of general population through the life course. Historically, in Kraepelin’s time, schizophrenia was a disease unit conceptualized as dementia praecox; however, since then, the disease concept has changed. Recent MRI studies had shown that the neuropathology of the brain in this disorder was characterized by mild progression before and after the onset of the disease, and that the brain alterations were relatively smaller than assumed. Although genetic factors contribute to the brain alterations in schizophrenia, which are thought to be trait differences, other changes include factors that are common in psychiatric diseases. Furthermore, it has been shown that the brain differences specific to schizophrenia were relatively small compared to other changes, such as those caused by brain development, aging, and gender. In addition, compared to the disease and participant factors, machine and imaging protocol differences could affect MRI signals, which should be addressed in multi-site studies. Recent advances in MRI modalities, such as multi-shell diffusion-weighted imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and multimodal brain imaging analysis, may be candidates to sharpen the characterization of schizophrenia-specific factors and provide new insights. The Brain/MINDS Beyond Human Brain MRI (BMB-HBM) project has been launched considering the differences and noises irrespective of the disease pathologies and includes the future perspectives of MRI studies for various psychiatric and neurological disorders. The sites use restricted MRI machines and harmonized multi-modal protocols, standardized image preprocessing, and traveling subject harmonization. Data sharing to the public will be planned in FY 2024. In the future, we believe that combining a high-quality human MRI dataset with genetic data, randomized controlled trials, and MRI for non-human primates and animal models will enable us to understand schizo-phrenia, elucidate its neural bases and therapeutic targets, and provide tools for clinical application at bedside.
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