Cerebellum volume and eyeblink conditioning in schizophrenia

Psychiatry Res. 2008 Apr 15;162(3):185-94. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2007.06.001. Epub 2008 Jan 28.


Although accumulating evidence suggests that cerebellar abnormalities may be linked to the symptoms and course of schizophrenia, few studies have related structural and functional indices of cerebellar integrity. The present study examined the relationship between the volume of specific subregions of the cerebellum and cerebellar function, as measured by eyeblink conditioning (EBC). Nine individuals with schizophrenia and six healthy comparison participants completed structural magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and a delay EBC procedure. Volumetric measurements were taken for the whole brain, whole cerebellum, cerebellar anterior lobules I-V and posterior lobules VI-VII. The schizophrenia group had smaller cerebellar anterior lobes and exhibited impaired EBC relative to the comparison group. In the comparison group, larger anterior volume correlated with earlier conditioned response onset latencies and increased amplitudes of the unconditioned blink response during paired trials (i.e., when the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli co-occurred). The findings that smaller anterior cerebellar volumes and EBC impairments were associated with schizophrenia are consistent with non-human studies showing that anterior cerebellar abnormalities are associated with deficits in delay EBC. The lack of a significant correlation between indices of EBC and cerebellar volume within the schizophrenia group suggests an aberrant relationship between cerebellar structure and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blinking*
  • Cerebellum / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*