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Bimanual Coordination in Chronic Schizophrenia

Brain and Cognition
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/brcg.2000.1261
  • Key Words: Basal Ganglia
  • External Cueing
  • Supplementary Motor Area
  • Attention


Abstract Anomalies of movement are observed both clinically and experimentally in schizophrenia. While the basal ganglia have been implicated in its pathogenesis, the nature of such involvement is equivocal. The basal ganglia may be involved in bimanual coordination through their input to the supplementary motor area (SMA). While a neglected area of study in schizophrenia, a bimanual movement task may provide a means of assessing the functional integrity of the motor circuit. Twelve patients with chronic schizophrenia and 12 matched control participants performed a bimanual movement task on a set of vertically mounted cranks at different speeds (1 and 2 Hz) and phase relationships. Participants performed in-phase movements (hands separated by 0°) and out-of-phase movements (hands separated by 180°) at both speeds with an external cue on or off. All participants performed the in-phase movements well, irrespective of speed or cueing conditions. Patients with schizophrenia were unable to perform the out-of-phase movements, particularly at the faster speed, reverting instead to the in-phase movement. There was no effect of external cueing on any of the movement conditions. These results suggest a specific problem of bimanual coordination indicative of SMA dysfunction per se and/or faulty callosal integration. A disturbance in the ability to switch attention during the out-of-phase task may also be involved.

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