Aberrant force processing in schizophrenia

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Initially considered as mere side effects of antipsychotic medication, there is now evidence that motor and somatosensory disturbances precede the onset of the illness and can be found in drug-naive patients. However, research on the topic is scarce. Here, we were interested in assessing the accuracy of the neural signal in detecting parametric variations of force linked to a voluntary motor act and a received tactile sensation, either self-generated or externally generated. Patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while asked to press, or abstain from pressing, a lever in order to match a visual target force. Forces, exerted and received, varied on 10 levels from 0.5 N to 5 N in 0.5 N increments. Healthy participants revealed a positive correlation between force and activity in contralateral primary somatosensory area (S1) when performing a movement as well as when receiving a tactile sensation but only when this was externally, and not self-, generated. Patients showed evidence of altered force signaling in both motor and tactile conditions, as well as increased correlation with force when tactile sensation was self-generated. Findings are interpreted in line with accounts of predictive and sensory integration mechanisms and point toward alterations in the encoding of parametric forces in the motor and somatosensory domain in patients affected by schizophrenia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-424
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


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