Background: The notion that cerebellar deficits may underlie clinical symptoms in people with schizophrenia is tested by evaluating 2 forms of cerebellar learning in patients with recent-onset schizophrenia. A potential medication effect is evaluated by including patients with or without antipsychotics. Methods: We assessed saccadic eye movement adaptation and eyeblink conditioning in men with recentonset schizophrenia who were taking antipsychotic medication or who were antipsychotic-free and in age-matched controls. Results: We included 39 men with schizophrenia (10 who were taking clozapine, 16 who were taking haloperidol and 13 who were antipsychoticfree) and 29 controls in our study. All participants showed significant saccadic adaptation. Adaptation strength did not differ between healthy controls and men with schizophrenia. The speed of saccade adaptation, however, was significantly lower in men with schizophrenia. They showed a significantly lower increase in the number of conditioned eyeblink responses. Over all experiments, no consist - ent effects of medication were observed. These outcomes did not correlate with age, years of education, psychopathology or dose of anti psychotics. Limitations: As patients were not randomized for treatment, an influence of confounding variables associated with medi - cation status cannot be excluded. Individual patients also varied along the schizophrenia spectrum despite the relative homogeneity with respect to onset of illness and short usage of medication. Finally, the relatively small number of participants may have concealed effects as a result of insufficient statistical power. Conclusion: We found several cerebellar learning deficits in men with schizophrenia that we cannot attribute to the use of antipsychotics. Although this finding, combined with the fact that deficits are already present in patients with recent-onset schizophrenia, could suggest that cerebellar impairments are a trait deficit in people with schizophrenia. This should be confirmed in longitudinal studies.

dx.doi.org/10.1503/jpn.120205, hdl.handle.net/1765/65976
Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
This work was funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme; grant id fp7/238214 - Cerebellar-Cortical Control: Cells, Circuits, Computation, and Clinic (C7)
Department of Neuroscience

Coesmans, M.P.H, Röder, C, Smit, A.E, Koekkoek, S.K.E, de Zeeuw, C.I, Frens, M.A, & van der Geest, J.N. (2014). Cerebellar motor learning deficits in medicated and medication-free men with recent-onset schizophrenia. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 39(1). doi:10.1503/jpn.120205