The Incidence and Nature of Cerebellar Findings in Schizophrenia: A Quantitative Review of fMRI Literature

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Clinical evidence and structural neuroimaging studies linked cerebellar deficits to cognitive-related symptoms in schizophrenia. Yet, in functional neuroimaging literature to date, the role of the cerebellum in schizophrenia was not explored in a systematic fashion. Here, we reviewed 234 functional magnetic resonance imaging studies indexed by PubMed and published in 1997–2010 that had at least one group of schizophrenia patients, used blood oxygenation level dependent contrast and the general linear model to assess neuronal activity. We quantified presence/absence of cerebellar findings and the frequency of hypo- and hyperactivations (ie, less or more activity in patients relative to healthy controls). We used peaks of activations reported in these studies to build a topographical representation of group differences on a cerebellar map. Cerebellar activity was reported in patients in 41.02% of the articles, with more than 80% of these dedicated to cognitive, emotional, and executive processes in schizophrenia. Almost two-thirds of group comparisons resulted in cerebellar hypoactivation, with a frequency that presented an inverted U shape across different age categories. The majority of the hypoactivation foci were located in the medial portion of the anterior lobe and the lateral hemispheres (lobules IV–V) of the cerebellum. Even though most experimental manipulations did not target explicitly the cerebellum’s functions in schizophrenia, the cerebellar findings are frequent and cerebellar hypoactivations predominant. Therefore, although the cerebellum seems to play an important functional role in schizophrenia, the lack of reporting and interpretation of these data may hamper the full understanding of the disorder.

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