Neurological signs and morphological cerebral changes in schizophrenia: An analysis of NSS subscales in patients with first episode psychosis.
ABSTRACT Neurological soft signs (NSS) comprise a broad range of minor motor and sensory deficits which are frequently found in schizophrenia. However, the cerebral changes underlying NSS are only partly understood. We therefore investigated the cerebral correlates of NSS by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 102 patients with first episode schizophrenia. NSS were assessed after remission of acute psychotic symptoms using the Heidelberg scale (HS), which consists of five NSS subscales ("motor coordination", "complex motor tasks", "orientation", "integrative functions", and "hard signs"). Correlations between NSS scores and cerebral changes were established by optimized voxel-based morphometry. NSS total scores were significantly associated with reduced gray matter densities in the precentral and postcentral gyri, the inferior parietal lobule and the inferior occipital gyrus. Both of the NSS subscales "motor coordination" and "complex motor tasks", referred to motor strip changes but showed differential correlations with parietal, insular, cerebellar or frontal sites, respectively. The NSS subscales "orientation" and "integrative functions" were associated with left frontal, parietal, and occipital changes or bihemispheric frontal changes, respectively. The NSS subscale "hard signs" was associated with deficits in the right cerebellum and right parastriate cortex. Repeated analyses for white matter changes revealed similar results. These findings confirm the associations between NSS and cerebral changes in areas important for motor and sensory functioning. This variety of cerebral sites corresponds to the heterogeneity of NSS and are consistent with the hypothesis that NSS reflect both a rather generalized cerebral dysfunction and localized deficits specific for particular signs.
SourceAvailable from: Nadja Urbanowitsch[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Neurological soft signs (NSS), i.e., minor motor and sensory changes, are a common feature in severe psychiatric disorders. We sought to establish the frequency of NSS in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) on basis of a large population-based sample and to identify their neuropsychological correlates including cognitive reserve. Neurological soft signs were examined using an abbreviated version of the Heidelberg NSS Scale in 221 "old" participants born between 1930 and 1932 (63 with MCI, 15 with AD, 143 healthy old controls) and 256 healthy "young" participants (born between 1950 and 1952) of the population-based interdisciplinary longitudinal study of aging. Subjects received thorough neuropsychological testing; years of school education were used as a proxy for cognitive reserve. Neurological soft signs scores were significantly (p < 0.001) higher in the AD patients (5.6 ± 3.11) than in the healthy old controls (2.8 ± 1.90) and in the MCI patients (3.0 ± 1.96). This result was confirmed after years of school education, which were inversely correlated (r = -0.25; p < 0.001) with NSS were entered as a covariate. In the patients, but not in the controls, NSS were significantly correlated with deficits in executive functioning and visuospatial functioning. Comparison of NSS scores between "old" (2.84 ± 1.9) and "young" (2.46 ± 1.97) controls yielded only minor, non-significant differences after education (13.86 ± 3.0 vs. 14.61 ± 2.48 years, respectively) was controlled for. Our results demonstrate that NSS are frequently found in mild AD, but not in MCI. NSS refer to frontal-executive deficits and visuospatial dysfunction rather than age per se and can be partly compensated for by cognitive reserve.Frontiers in Psychiatry 01/2015; 6:12. DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2015.00012
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ABSTRACT: Minor motor and sensory deficits or neurological soft signs (NSS) are frequently found in patients with schizophrenia at any stage of their illness. Although previous studies have reported that NSS are associated with altered structure and function within fronto-parietal areas, it remains unclear whether the neuroanatomical basis of NSS may be confounded by underlying pathological processes, and by antipsychotic treatment. Morphological brain correlates of NSS in healthy subjects have seldom been investigated. This study evaluated the relationship between NSS levels and abnormalities of subcortical and cortical structures in healthy individuals. High-resolution MRI data at 3 Tesla were obtained from 68 healthy individuals. Automated segmentation of caudate nucleus, putamen, globus pallidus, thalamus, and brainstem was performed using both FSL-FIRST and Freesurfer. The surface-based analysis via Freesurfer enabled calculation of cortical thickness, area and folding (local gyrification index). NSS were examined on the Heidelberg Scale and related to both subcortical and cortical measurements. Using two fully automated brain segmentations methods, we found no significant association between NSS levels and morphological changes in subcortical structures. Higher NSS scores were associated with morphological changes of cortical thickness, area and folding in multiple areas comprising superior frontal, middle temporal, insular and postcentral regions. Our findings demonstrate the benefit of surface-based approaches when investigating brain correlates of NSS. The data lend further support to the hypothesis that NSS in healthy individuals involve multiple cortical rather than subcortical brain regions.Brain Structure and Function 12/2014; DOI:10.1007/s00429-014-0964-9 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Previous structural neuroimaging studies linked cerebellar deficits to neurological soft signs (NSS) in schizophrenia. However, no studies employed a methodology specifically designed to assess cerebellar morphology. In this study, we evaluated the relationship between NSS levels and abnormalities of the human cerebellum in patients with recent-onset schizophrenia and healthy individuals using an exclusive cerebellar atlas.Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 01/2015; 60. DOI:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2015.01.011 · 4.03 Impact Factor