A transcranial magnetic stimulation study of inhibitory deficits in the motor cortex in patients with schizophrenia

Psychiatry Res. 2002 Feb 15;114(1):11-22. doi: 10.1016/s0925-4927(02)00002-1.


It has been proposed that inhibitory deficits play a crucial role in the pathophysiological process of schizophrenia as suggested by post-mortem, neuropsychological and neurophysiological evidence. We hypothesised that patients with schizophrenia would demonstrate abnormalities of cortical inhibition in the motor cortex with single and paired pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Patients with DSM-IV schizophrenia (n=22) and normal volunteers (n=21) participated in the study. Electromyographic recordings from the abductor pollicis brevis (APB) muscle were made during focal TMS stimulation to the contra-lateral motor cortex. The threshold intensity to produce a motor response, the size of the motor evoked potential, the duration of the silent period, and the cortical inhibition and facilitation to paired pulse TMS were measured. The patient group demonstrated a reduction in length of the silent period and a reduction in cortical inhibition with paired stimuli. No changes were found in motor threshold, motor evoked potential size, or cortical facilitation. The study demonstrated deficits of cortical inhibition in the motor cortex of patients with schizophrenia. These deficits appear to be of cortical origin. Their relationship to dysfunction in other cortical networks requires further elucidation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Electrodiagnosis*
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*