Structural thalamofrontal hypoconnectivity is related to oculomotor corollary discharge dysfunction in schizophrenia

Beier Yao, Sebastiaan F.W. Neggers, Martin Rolfs, Lara Rösler, Ilse A. Thompson, Helene J. Hopman, Livon Ghermezi, René S. Kahn, Katharine N. Thakkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


By predicting sensory consequences of actions, humans can distinguish self-generated sensory inputs from those that are elicited externally. This is one mechanism by which we achieve a subjective sense of agency over our actions. Corollary discharge (CD) signals— “copies” of motor signals sent to sensory areas—permit such predictions, and CD abnormalities are a hypothesized mechanism for the agency disruptions in schizophrenia that characterize a subset of symptoms. Indeed, behavioral evidence of altered CD, including in the oculomotor system, has been observed in schizophrenia patients. A pathway projecting from the superior colliculus to the frontal eye fields (FEFs) via the mediodorsal thalamus (MD) conveys oculomotor CD associated with saccadic eye movements in nonhuman primates. This animal work provides a promising translational framework in which to investigate CD abnormalities in clinical populations. In the current study, we examined whether structural connectivity of this MD–FEF pathway relates to oculomotor CD functioning in schizophrenia. Twenty-two schizophrenia patients and 24 healthy control participants of both sexes underwent diffusion tensor imaging, and a large subset performed a trans-saccadic perceptual task that yields measures of CD. Using probabilistic tractography, we identified anatomical connections between FEF and MD and extracted indices of microstructural integrity. Patients exhibited compromised microstructural integrity in the MD–FEF pathway, which was correlated with greater oculomotor CD abnormalities and more severe psychotic symptoms. These data reinforce the role of the MD–FEF pathway in transmitting oculomotor CD signals and suggest that disturbances in this pathway may relate to psychotic symptom manifestation in patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2102-2113
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - 13 Mar 2019


  • Corollary discharge
  • DTI
  • Eye movements
  • Predictive coding
  • Probabilistic tractography
  • Psychosis


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