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Motor dysfunction and sensorimotor cortex activation changes in schizophrenia: A study with functional magnetic resonance imaging

J. Schröder, M. Essig, K. Baudendistel, T. Jahn, I. Gerdsen, A. Stockert, L. Schad and M. Knopp

Neuroimage, 9 (1), pp.81-87

Recent studies demonstrate a diminished activation of the sensorimotor cortex and supplementary motor area (SMA) in schizophrenia which may be involved in the pathogenesis of neurological soft signs (NSS). Yet, the question whether a retarded motor performance may account for these changes remained to be clarified. Twelve DSM-III-R schizophrenics and 12 healthy controls were included. All subjects were right-handed. Nine patients received clozapine, two conventional neuroleptics, and one was drug-free. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was obtained in a resting condition and during pronation/supination at three speed levels (low, medium, and high) with motor performance recorded simultaneously using a pronation/supination device. While measures of motor retardation (i.e., repetition rate and amplitude of the movements) did not differ between patients and controls, the variability of performance was significantly (P < 0.05) increased in the patients' group. In addition, patients with schizophrenia showed a significantly (P < 0.05) decreased activation of the sensorimotor cortices. Similar, although nonsignificant (P = 0.09) activation changes were observed in the SMA. Activation differences were more pronounced at a slow speed and in the drug-free patient. These results confirm a diminished sensorimotor cortex and SMA activation and indicate that variability of performance rather than retarded performance per se may correspond to these changes.

Contact: Dr. Frank Zöllner last modified: 20.03.2019
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