Impaired cerebellar-dependent eyeblink conditioning in first-degree relatives of individuals with schizophrenia

Amanda R. Bolbecker, Jerillyn S. Kent, Isaac T. Petersen, Mallory J. Klaunig, Jennifer K. Forsyth, Josselyn M. Howell, Daniel R. Westfall, Brian F. O'Donnell, William P. Hetrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Consistent with reports of cerebellar structural, functional, and neurochemical anomalies in schizophrenia, robust cerebellar-dependent delay eyeblink conditioning (dEBC) deficits have been observed in the disorder. Impaired dEBC is also present in schizotypal personality disorder, an intermediate phenotype of schizophrenia. The present work sought to determine whether dEBC deficits exist in nonpsychotic first-degree relatives of individuals with schizophrenia. A single-cue tone dEBC paradigm consisting of 10 blocks with 10 trials each (9 paired and 1 unpaired trials) was used to examine the functional integrity of cerebellar circuitry in schizophrenia participants, individuals with a first-degree relative diagnosed with schizophrenia, and healthy controls with no firstdegree relatives diagnosed with schizophrenia. The conditioned stimulus (a 400 ms tone) coterminated with the unconditioned stimulus (a 50 ms air puff to the left eye) on paired trials. One relative and 2 healthy controls were removed from further analysis due to declining conditioned response rates, leaving 18 schizophrenia participants, 17 first-degree relatives, and 16 healthy controls. Electromyographic data were subsequently analyzed using growth curve models in hierarchical linear regression. Acquisition of dEBC conditioned responses was significantly impaired in schizophrenia and first-degree relative groups compared with controls. This finding that cerebellar-mediated associative learning deficits are present in first-degree relatives of individuals with schizophrenia provides evidence that dEBC abnormalities in schizophrenia may not be due to medication or course of illness effects. Instead, the present results are consistent with models of schizophrenia positing cerebellar-cortical circuit abnormalities and suggest that cerebellar abnormalities represent a risk marker for the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1010
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia bulletin
Volume40
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Associative learning
  • Cerebellum
  • Cognition
  • Conditioned response
  • Eyeblink conditioning
  • Psychosis
  • Reflex conditioning
  • Relatives
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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    Bolbecker, A. R., Kent, J. S., Petersen, I. T., Klaunig, M. J., Forsyth, J. K., Howell, J. M., Westfall, D. R., O'Donnell, B. F., & Hetrick, W. P. (2014). Impaired cerebellar-dependent eyeblink conditioning in first-degree relatives of individuals with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia bulletin, 40(5), 1001-1010. https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbt112