Psychomotor symptoms of schizophrenia map on the cerebral motor circuit

Psychiatry Res. 2015 Sep 30;233(3):293-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.06.010.


Schizophrenia is a devastating disorder thought to result mainly from cerebral pathology. Neuroimaging studies have provided a wealth of findings of brain dysfunction in schizophrenia. However, we are still far from understanding how particular symptoms can result from aberrant brain function. In this context, the high prevalence of motor symptoms in schizophrenia such as catatonia, neurological soft signs, parkinsonism, and abnormal involuntary movements is of particular interest. Here, the neuroimaging correlates of these motor symptoms are reviewed. For all investigated motor symptoms, neural correlates were found within the cerebral motor system. However, only a limited set of results exists for hypokinesia and neurological soft signs, while catatonia, abnormal involuntary movements and parkinsonian signs still remain understudied with neuroimaging methods. Soft signs have been associated with altered brain structure and function in cortical premotor and motor areas as well as cerebellum and thalamus. Hypokinesia is suggested to result from insufficient interaction of thalamocortical loops within the motor system. Future studies are needed to address the neural correlates of motor abnormalities in prodromal states, changes during the course of the illness, and the specific pathophysiology of catatonia, dyskinesia and parkinsonism in schizophrenia.

Keywords: Arterial spin labeling (ASL); Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI); Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); Motor system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Catatonia / physiopathology
  • Cerebellum / metabolism
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods
  • Dyskinesias / diagnosis
  • Dyskinesias / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Motor Cortex / metabolism*
  • Motor Cortex / pathology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / diagnosis
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*
  • Thalamus / metabolism
  • Thalamus / pathology