• neurological signs;
  • cerebellar;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • development;
  • schizophrenia

Mouchet-Mages S, Rodrigo S, Cachia A, Mouaffak F, Olie JP, Meder JF, Oppenheim C, Krebs MO. Correlations of cerebello-thalamo-prefrontal structure and neurological soft signs in patients with first-episode psychosis.

Objective:  This study aimed at determining brain structural imaging correlates of neurological soft signs (NSS) in patients suffering from a first-episode psychosis.

Method:  Fifty-two patients with a DSMIV diagnosis of first-episode psychosis (schizophrenia or schizophrenia spectrum disorder) were consecutively included. Subjects were assessed using a standardized neurological examination for motor coordination, motor integration and sensory integration. Anatomical magnetic resonance images (MRI) were analysed in the whole brain using optimized voxel-based morphometry.

Results:  Neurological soft signs (NSS) total score (P-corrected = 0.013) and motor integration subscore (P-corrected = 0.035) were found to negatively correlate with grey matter structure of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortices. Motor coordination subscore was positively correlated with grey matter structure of the thalami (P-corrected = 0.002) and negatively with white matter structure of the cerebellum (P-corrected = 0.034). The addition of age and gender as covariate yielded similar results. We did not find any correlation between neither sensory integration subscore and grey matter structure nor NSS total score, motor integration subscore and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) white matter structure.

Conclusion:  Structural alteration in the cerebello-thalamo-prefrontal network is associated with neurological soft signs in schizophrenia, a candidate network for ‘cognitive dysmetria’.