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Neural correlates of impaired volitional action control in schizophrenia patients


  • This work was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungs Gemeinschaft (RE 2869/1-2, RE 2869/2-2) and by a PhD scholarship of the Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft, Berlin, Germany. We thank Rainer Kniesche and Thomas Pinkpank for their support.


Slowed initiation of volitional but not visually guided saccades indicates impaired volitional action control in schizophrenia patients (SZ). The present study aimed at identifying neural correlates of this specific deficit. Fourteen SZ and 13 healthy control participants (HC) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing volitional and visually guided saccades. SZ showed increased latencies in volitional but not in visually guided saccades. Brain activation during volitional saccades compared to visually guided saccades was increased in SZ compared to HC in several areas: the supplementary eye fields, suggesting inefficient production of volitional saccades; the prefrontal cortex, pointing to altered top down control on complex eye movements; and the left middle temporal area, suggesting changes in early sensory and attention processing during the volitional control of saccades in SZ.