The role of the thalamus in schizophrenia

Can J Psychiatry. 1997 Feb;42(1):27-33. doi: 10.1177/070674379704200104.


Background: Explaining the diversity of symptoms that occur in schizophrenia is a major conceptual challenge. Perhaps the most powerful strategy is to identify a fundamental cognitive process and/or a fundamental neural circuit.

Methods: Convergent data from our research group in Iowa and from investigators in other centres are summarized.

Results: The thalamus plays a key role in information processing. A defect in circuitry connecting the thalamus, frontal cortex, and cerebellum could explain a wide range of symptoms. Neuropathology and imaging studies suggest that patients with schizophrenia may have abnormalities in this circuitry.

Conclusion: The fundamental deficit in schizophrenia may be conceptualized as a "cognitive dysmetria" characterized by impairments in coordinating the perception, encoding, retrieval, and prioritization of experience and information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Thalamus / physiopathology*