Impaired Sensorimotor Adaption in Schizophrenia in Comparison to Age-Matched and Elderly Controls

Claudia Cornelis, Livia J. de Picker, Violette Coppens, Anne Morsel, Maarten Timmers, Glenn Dumont, Bernard G. C. Sabbe, Manuel Morrens, Wouter Hulstijn

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The "cognitive dysmetria hypothesis"of schizophrenia proposes a disrupted communication between the cerebellum and cerebral cortex, resulting in sensorimotor and cognitive symptoms. Sensorimotor adaptation relies strongly on the function of the cerebellum. Objectives: This study investigated whether sensorimotor adaptation is reduced in schizophrenia compared with age-matched and elderly healthy controls. Methods: Twenty-nine stably treated patients with schizophrenia, 30 age-matched, and 30 elderly controls were tested in three motor adaptation tasks in which visual movement feedback was unexpectedly altered. In the "rotation adaptation task"the perturbation consisted of a rotation (30° clockwise), in the "gain adaptation task"the extent of the movement feedback was reduced (by a factor of 0.7) and in the "vertical reversal task,"up- and downward pen movements were reversed by 180°. Results: Patients with schizophrenia adapted to the perturbations, but their movement times and errors were substantially larger than controls. Unexpectedly, the magnitude of adaptation was significantly smaller in schizophrenia than elderly participants. The impairment already occurred during the first adaptation trials, pointing to a decline in explicit strategy use. Additionally, post-adaptation aftereffects provided strong evidence for impaired implicit adaptation learning. Both negative and positive schizophrenia symptom severities were correlated with indices of the amount of adaptation and its aftereffects. Conclusions: Both explicit and implicit components of sensorimotor adaptation learning were reduced in patients with schizophrenia, adding to the evidence for a role of the cerebellum in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Elderly individuals outperformed schizophrenia patients in the adaptation learning tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • Aging
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Procedural learning
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sensorimotor adaptation

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