Distinct Associations of Motor Domains in Relatives of Schizophrenia Patients-Different Pathways to Motor Abnormalities in Schizophrenia?

Schäppi, Lea; Stegmayer, Katharina; Viher, Petra; Walther, Sebastian (2018). Distinct Associations of Motor Domains in Relatives of Schizophrenia Patients-Different Pathways to Motor Abnormalities in Schizophrenia? Frontiers in psychiatry, 9(129), p. 129. Frontiers 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00129

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Aberrant motor function is an integral part of schizophrenia. In fact, abnormalities are frequently found in patients, in populations at risk, and in unaffected relatives. Motor abnormalities are suspected to be relevant for the clinical outcome and could probably predict the conversion from at-risk individuals to schizophrenia. Furthermore, motor function has been argued as endophenotype of the disorder. Yet, which particular motor domain may classify as a potential endophenotype is unknown. We aimed to compare schizophrenia patients, unaffected first-degree relatives and healthy controls for different motor domains. We expected impairments in all domains in patients and in some domains in relatives.


We included 43 schizophrenia patients, 34 unaffected first-degree relatives of schizophrenia patients, and 29 healthy control subjects, matched for age, gender, and education level. We compared motor function of four motor domains between the groups. The domains comprise neurological soft signs (NSS), abnormal involuntary movements (dyskinesia), Parkinsonism, and fine motor function including simple [finger tapping (FT)] and complex fine motor function, (i.e., dexterity as measured with the coin rotation test). Furthermore, we tested the association of motor function of the four domains with working memory, frontal lobe function, and nonverbal intelligence for each group separately using within-group bivariate correlations.


Schizophrenia patients showed poorer motor function in all tested domains compared to healthy controls. First-degree relatives had intermediate ratings with aberrant function in two motor domains. In detail, relatives had significantly more NSS and performed poorer in the FT task than controls. In contrast, complex fine motor function was intact in relatives. Relatives did not differ from controls in dyskinesia or Parkinsonism severity.


Taken together, schizophrenia patients have motor abnormalities in all tested domains. Thus, motor abnormalities are a key element of the disorder. Likewise, first-degree relatives presented motor deficits in two domains. A clear difference between relatives and healthy controls was found for NSS and FT. Thus, NSS and FT may be potential markers of vulnerability for schizophrenia. The lack of association between genetic risk and dyskinesia or Parkinsonism suggests distinct pathobiological mechanisms in the various motor abnormalities in schizophrenia.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Translational Research Center

UniBE Contributor:

Schäppi, Lea; Stegmayer, Katharina Deborah Lena; Viher, Petra and Walther, Sebastian


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Sebastian Walther

Date Deposited:

07 Dec 2018 15:16

Last Modified:

15 Oct 2020 08:32

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

dimension fine motor function motor function neurological soft signs relatives of schizophrenia schizophrenia





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