Cerebellar dysfunction in neuroleptic naive schizophrenia patients: clinical, cognitive, and neuroanatomic correlates of cerebellar neurologic signs

Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Jun 15;55(12):1146-53. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2004.02.020.


Background: There is increasing evidence that, aside from motor coordination, the cerebellum also plays an important role in cognition and psychiatric disorders. Our previous studies support the hypothesis that cerebellar dysfunction may disrupt the cortico-cerebellar-thalamic-cortical circuit and, in turn, lead to cognitive dysmetria in schizophrenia. The goal of this study was to investigate cerebellar dysfunction in schizophrenia by examining the clinical, cognitive, and neuroanatomic correlates of cerebellar neurologic signs in schizophrenia patients.

Methods: We compared the prevalence of cerebellar neurologic signs in 155 neuroleptic-naive schizophrenia patients against 155 age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects. Differences in clinical characteristics, standardized neuropsychologic performance, and magnetic resonance imaging brain volumes between patients with and without cerebellar signs were also examined.

Results: Patients had significantly higher rates of cerebellar signs than control subjects, with coordination of gait and stance being the most common abnormalities. Patients with lifetime alcohol abuse or dependence were no more likely than those without alcoholism to have cerebellar signs. Presence of cerebellar signs in patients was associated with poorer premorbid adjustment, more severe negative symptoms, poorer cognitive performance, and smaller cerebellar tissue volumes.

Conclusions: These findings lend further support for cerebellar dysfunction in schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebellar Diseases / complications*
  • Cerebellar Diseases / pathology
  • Cerebellar Diseases / psychology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Schizophrenia / complications*
  • Schizophrenia / pathology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology


  • Antipsychotic Agents