An fMRI study of visual attention and sensorimotor function before and after antipsychotic treatment in first-episode schizophrenia

Sarah K. Keedy, Cherise Rosen, Tin Khine, Rajaprabhakaran Rajarethinam, Philip G. Janicak, John A. Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


While much is known about receptor affinity profiles of antipsychotic medications, less is known about their impact on functional brain systems in patients with schizophrenia. We conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies with first-episode schizophrenia patients as they made saccades to unpredictable visual targets before and after 4-6 weeks of antipsychotic treatment. Matched healthy individuals were scanned at similar time intervals. Pretreatment, patients had less activation in frontal and parietal eye fields and cerebellum. After treatment these disturbances were not present, suggesting improved function in attentional and sensorimotor systems. Other pretreatment abnormalities were noted in sensory and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, but after treatment these abnormalities were absent or less prominent, in line with improved function in attentional systems. In addition, although not abnormal at baseline, there was reduced activity after treatment in dorsal prefrontal cortex, dorsal striatum, and dorsomedial thalamus, suggesting a potential adverse effect of treatment on frontostriatal systems, perhaps related to dopamine blockade in the caudate. These findings provide evidence for a complex impact of antipsychotic medication on functional brain systems in schizophrenia and illustrate the potential of neuroimaging biomarkers for both adverse and beneficial drug effects on functional brain systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-23
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 30 2009


  • Antipsychotic
  • Cognition
  • Frontal eye field
  • Parietal eye field
  • Saccadic eye movement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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