Reduced motor activity has been reported in schizophrenia and was associated with subtype, psychopathology and medication. Still, little is known about the neurobiology of motor retardation. To identify neural correlates of motor activity, resting state cerebral blood flow (CBF) was correlated with objective motor activity of the same day. Participants comprised 11 schizophrenia patients and 14 controls who underwent magnetic resonance imaging with arterial spin labeling and wrist actigraphy. Patients had reduced activity levels and reduced perfusion of the left parahippocampal gyrus, left middle temporal gyrus, right thalamus, and right prefrontal cortex. In controls, but not in schizophrenia, CBF was correlated with activity in the right thalamic ventral anterior (VA) nucleus, a key module within basal ganglia-cortical motor circuits. In contrast, only in schizophrenia patients positive correlations of CBF and motor activity were found in bilateral prefrontal areas and in the right rostral cingulate motor area (rCMA). Grey matter volume correlated with motor activity only in the left posterior cingulate cortex of the patients. The findings suggest that basal ganglia motor control is impaired in schizophrenia. In addition, CBF of cortical areas critical for motor control was associated with volitional motor behavior, which may be a compensatory mechanism for basal ganglia dysfunction.
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