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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e41808. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041808. Epub 2012 Aug 1.

Motor deficits in schizophrenia quantified by nonlinear analysis of postural sway.

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  • 1Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, United States of America.


Motor dysfunction is a consistently reported but understudied aspect of schizophrenia. Postural sway area was examined in individuals with schizophrenia under four conditions with different amounts of visual and proprioceptive feedback: eyes open or closed and feet together or shoulder width apart. The nonlinear complexity of postural sway was assessed by detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA). The schizophrenia group (n = 27) exhibited greater sway area compared to controls (n = 37). Participants with schizophrenia showed increased sway area following the removal of visual input, while this pattern was absent in controls. Examination of DFA revealed decreased complexity of postural sway and abnormal changes in complexity upon removal of visual input in individuals with schizophrenia. Additionally, less complex postural sway was associated with increased symptom severity in participants with schizophrenia. Given the critical involvement of the cerebellum and related circuits in postural stability and sensorimotor integration, these results are consistent with growing evidence of motor, cerebellar, and sensory integration dysfunction in the disorder, and with theoretical models that implicate cerebellar deficits and more general disconnection of function in schizophrenia.

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