Background: Cumulative evidence suggests the cerebellum is involved in cognition and may be important in the pathoetiology of schizophrenia. Functional imaging studies have identified a possible neural circuit that includes the cerebellum and may be abnormal in patients with schizophrenia, manifesting as a fundamental cognitive deficit conceptualized as cognitive dysmetria. To explore the role of the cerebellum in cognitive dysfunction and schizophrenia, this study was designed to evaluate the morphology of the cerebellar vermis, its relationship to other cortical areas, and to cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia.
Methods: Male patients with schizophrenia (n = 65) were matched by age and gender to 65 healthy male controls. Volume measures of the 4 cerebral lobes and total cerebellum were obtained using automated methods. The area of the cerebellar vermis (divided into three lobes) was traced on a midsaggital MRI slice.
Results: Patients had smaller frontal and temporal lobes. There were no group differences in total cerebellar volume. Patients had a smaller vermis area, accounted for by a smaller anterior lobe. The anterior vermis area was positively correlated with total cerebellar volume, temporal lobe volume, and FSIQ in patients, but not controls.
Conclusions: These findings support the theory that regions of the cerebellum may be involved in a neural circuit that is structurally and functionally abnormal in patients with schizophrenia, leading to cognitive dysmetria.