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Reduced cerebellar volume and neurological soft signs in first-episode schizophrenia

C. Bottmer, S. Bachmann, J. Pantel, M. Essig, M. Amann, L. Schad, V. Magnotta and J. Schröder

Psychiatry Res, 140 (3), pp.239-250

Recent studies indicate that morphological and functional abnormalities of the cerebellum are associated with schizophrenia. Since the cerebellum is crucial for motor coordination, one may ask whether the respective changes are associated with motor dysfunction in the disease. To test these hypotheses in a clinical study, we investigated cerebellar volumes derived from volumetric magnetic resonance imaging of 37 first-episode patients with schizophrenia, schizophreniform or schizoaffective disorder and 18 healthy controls matched for age, gender and handedness. To control for potential interindividual differences in head size, intracranial volume was entered as a covariate. Neurological soft signs (NSS) were examined after remission of acute symptoms. Compared with the controls, patients had significantly smaller cerebellar volumes for both hemispheres. Furthermore, NSS in patients were inversely correlated with tissue volume of the right cerebellar hemisphere partialling for intracranial volume. No associations were detected between cerebellar volumes and psychopathological measures obtained at hospital admission when patients were in the acute psychotic state or after remission, treatment duration until remission, treatment response or prognostic factors, respectively. These findings support the hypothesis of cerebellar involvement in schizophrenia and indicate that the respective changes are associated with NSS.

Contact: Dr. Frank Zöllner last modified: 14.01.2019
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