Abnormal neural functions associated with motor inhibition deficits in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

Abraham C. Van Voorhis, Jerillyn S. Kent, Seung Suk Kang, Vina M. Goghari, Angus W. MacDonald, Scott R. Sponheim

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12 Scopus citations


Deficits in response inhibition have been observed in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; however, the neural origins of the abnormalities and their relevance to genetic liability for psychosis are unknown. We used a stop-signal task to examine motor inhibition and associated neural processes in schizophrenia patients (n = 57), bipolar disorder patients (n = 21), first-degree biological relatives of patients with schizophrenia (n = 34), and healthy controls (n = 56). Schizophrenia patients demonstrated motor control deficits reflected in longer stop-signal reaction times and elongated reaction times. With the possibility of needing to inhibit a button press, both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients showed diminished reductions of the P300 brain response and only the healthy controls demonstrated adjustments in response execution time, as measured by response-locked lateralized readiness potentials. Schizotypal traits in the biological relatives were associated with less P300 modulation consistent with the motor-related anomalies being associated with subtle schizophrenia-spectrum symptomatology in family members. The two patient groups had elongated response selection processes as manifest in the delayed onset of the stimulus-locked lateralized readiness potential. The bipolar disorder group was unique in showing significantly diminished neural responses to the stop-signal to inhibit a response. Antipsychotic medication dosage was related to worse motor inhibition, thus motor inhibition deficits in schizophrenia may be partially explained by the effect of pharmacological agents. Failed modulation of brain processes in relation to response inhibition probability and the lengthening of motor response selection appear to be transdiagnostic abnormalities spanning schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5397-5411
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number18
StatePublished - Dec 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funding to Scott R. Sponheim provided in part by a Merit Review Award #I01CX000227 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Clinical Sciences Research and Development Research Program. Jerillyn S. Kent was supported by an NIMH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship (Award Number F32MH112334). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the National Institutes of Health.


  • bipolar disorder
  • electroencephalography
  • event-related potentials
  • inhibition
  • risk factors
  • schizophrenia


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