Delusions and hallucinations are classic positive symptoms of schizophrenia. A contemporary cognitive theory called the ‘forward output model’ suggests that the misattribution of self-generated actions may underlie some of these types of symptoms, such as delusions of control – the experience of self-generated action being controlled by an external agency. In order to examine the validity of this suggestion, we performed a longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study examining neuronal activation associated with motor movement during acute psychosis.
We studied brain activation using fMRI during a motor task in 11 patients with schizophrenia and 9 healthy controls. The patient group was tested at two time points separated by 6–8weeks.
At initial testing, the patient group had a mean Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale score of 56.3, and showed significantly increased activation within the left inferior parietal lobe (IPL) compared to controls. Patients reported significantly decreased positive symptoms at 6–8week followup and IPL activation had returned to normal. Our results demonstrate that first-rank positive symptoms are associated with hyperactivation in the secondary somatosensory cortex (IPL).
These findings lend further credence to the theory that a dysfunction in the sensory feedback system located in the IPL, and which is thought to underlie our sense of agency, may contribute to the aetiology of delusions of control.
Keywords: Schizophrenia, Neuroimaging, Delusions, Hallucinations