Schizophrenia: a subcortical neurotransmitter imbalance syndrome?

Schizophr Bull. 1990;16(3):425-32. doi: 10.1093/schbul/16.3.425.


Recent animal experiments suggest that glutamate plays a fundamental role in the control of psychomotor activity. This is illustrated by the finding that even in the virtually complete absence of dopamine, a marked behavioral activation is produced in mice following suppression of glutamatergic neurotransmission. This article discusses the possibility that a deficient activity within the cortico-striatal glutamatergic pathway is an important pathophysiological component in some cases of schizophrenia and that glutamatergic agonists may prove beneficial in this disorder. In a broader perspective, schizophrenia may be looked upon as a syndrome induced by a neurotransmitter imbalance in a feedback-regulated system, where dopamine and glutamate play a crucial role in controlling arousal and the processing of signals from the outer world to the cerebral cortex via the thalamus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiopathology*
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Glutamates / physiology*
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Receptors, Dopamine / physiology
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / physiology
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*


  • Glutamates
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Dopamine