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Schizophr Res. 2005 Jun 1;75(1):65-75.

Relationship of neuromotor disturbances to psychosis symptoms in first-episode neuroleptic-naive schizophrenia patients.

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The University of Western Ontario and Windsor Regional Hospital, Windsor Ontario, Canada.


From the very inception of the modern diagnostic scheme for psychotic disorders, abnormalities in motor function have been observed in these conditions. Despite convergence from multiple areas of research supporting the notion that multiple frontal-subcortical circuits regulate motor and limbic behavior, the precise relationship between motor abnormalities and psychopathology has not been elucidated. The goals of this study were to examine the prevalence of extrapyramidal signs (EPS) in first-episode schizophrenia patients and their relationships to three psychopathological dimensions (positive psychosis syndrome, negative syndrome, and disorganization). We assessed EPS using traditional observer-based as well as quantitative instrumental measures in 39 neuroleptic-naive first-episode schizophrenia subjects. Subjects were followed for 6 months after initiating antipsychotic treatment to examine the stability of motor-limbic relationships. Four main findings emerged from this study. First, depending on the measure used the prevalence of dyskinesia prior to treatment ranged from 13% to 20%. The prevalence of parkinsonism ranged from 18% to 28%. Second, severity of dyskinesia was associated with the positive psychotic syndrome; whereas parkinsonism was associated with the positive psychosis, negative syndrome and disorganization. Third, psychopathology improved significantly across all symptom dimensions following antipsychotic treatment, while EPS remained stable. This suggests that some motor abnormalities in schizophrenia may reflect trait characteristics. Fourth, abnormalities on the pre-treatment instrumental measure of parkinsonism predicted greater improvement on positive psychosis symptoms following treatment (p=0.008). Our findings support the notion that neuromotor disturbances may be a core feature of schizophrenia in a substantial proportion of patients and implicate multiple fronto-striatal circuits regulating limbic and neuromotor behavior in schizophrenia.

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