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Effects of aripiprazole and haloperidol on neural activation during a simple motor task in healthy individuals: A functional MRI study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1833–1845
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number4
Early online date23 Dec 2016
Accepted/In press22 Nov 2016
E-pub ahead of print23 Dec 2016
PublishedApr 2017


King's Authors


The dopaminergic system plays a key role in motor function and motor abnormalities have been shown to be a specific feature of psychosis. Due to their dopaminergic action, antipsychotic drugs may be expected to modulate motor function, but the precise effects of these drugs on motor function remain unclear. We carried out a within-subject, double-blind, randomized study of the effects of aripiprazole, haloperidol and placebo on motor function in 20 healthy men. For each condition, motor performance on an auditory-paced task was investigated. We entered maps of neural activation into a random effects general linear regression model to investigate motor function main effects. Whole-brain imaging revealed a significant treatment effect in a distributed network encompassing posterior orbitofrontal/anterior insula cortices, and the inferior temporal and postcentral gyri. Post-hoc comparison of treatments showed neural activation after aripiprazole did not differ significantly from placebo in either voxel-wise or region of interest analyses, with the results above driven primarily by haloperidol. We also observed a simple main effect of haloperidol compared with placebo, with increased task-related recruitment of posterior cingulate and precentral gyri. Furthermore, region of interest analyses revealed greater activation following haloperidol compared with placebo in the precentral and post-central gyri, and the putamen. These diverse modifications in cortical motor activation may relate to the different pharmacological profiles of haloperidol and aripiprazole, although the specific mechanisms underlying these differences remain unclear. Evaluating healthy individuals can allow investigation of the effects of different antipsychotics on cortical activation, independently of either disease-related pathology or previous treatment.

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