Implicit Timing as the Missing Link between Neurobiological and Self Disorders in Schizophrenia?

Front Hum Neurosci. 2016 Jun 20;10:303. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00303. eCollection 2016.


Disorders of consciousness and the self are at the forefront of schizophrenia symptomatology. Patients are impaired in feeling themselves as the authors of their thoughts and actions. In addition, their flow of consciousness is disrupted, and thought fragmentation has been suggested to be involved in the patients' difficulties in feeling as being one unique, unchanging self across time. Both impairments are related to self disorders, and both have been investigated at the experimental level. Here we review evidence that both mechanisms of motor control and the temporal structure of signal processing are impaired in schizophrenia patients. Based on this review, we propose that the sequencing of action and perception plays a key role in the patients' impairments. Furthermore, the millisecond time scale of the disorders, as well as the impaired sequencing, highlights the cooperation between brain networks including the cerebellum, as proposed by Andreasen (1999). We examine this possibility in the light of recent knowledge on the anatomical and physiological properties of the cerebellum, its role in timing, and its involvement in known physiological impairments in patients with schizophrenia, e.g., resting states and brain dynamics. A disruption in communication between networks involving the cerebellum, related to known impairments in dopamine, glutamate and GABA transmission, may help to better explain why patients experience reduced attunement with the external world and possibly with themselves.

Keywords: Simon effect; agency; motor control; sequencing; time.