The neural correlates of action–perception circuits in schizophrenia: Impaired perception of the multisensory consequences of one’s own actions

Funding: DFG

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects approximately 1% of the population. Core symptoms include distortions in perception manifesting as auditory hallucinations and passivity phenomena (ego-disturbances). These symptoms are thought to be – at least in part – the result of an efference copy failure leading to a dysfunctional action–perception coupling. Thus, patients have difficulty accurately identifying the cause of sensory stimuli as being produced by themselves or by other causes. In a natural context, these predictions are complex, since actions usually have consequences in more than one modality (e.g. audition or vision) and are often performed with tools, where the coupling between an action and its consequence is loosened. However, little is known about the neural correlates of supramodal predictions of the consequences of our own actions, especially in a tool-use context. Therefore, the goal of this project is to investigate the neural correlates of the perception of the visual and auditory consequences of one’s own manual and tool-use actions in healthy subjects and patients with and without hallucinations and/or passivity phenomena.

The project is structured in three work packages (WP). Each WP will involve schizophrenia patients with hallucinations and/or passivity phenomena, patients without these symptoms and healthy participants. The fMRI investigations will focus on the neural correlates of supramodal action-sensory feedback matching processes (WP1), action effects on the perception of multisensory action consequences, such as sensory suppression (WP2), and predictive mechanisms for tool-use actions and related multisensory consequences (WP3). In all WPs, the subjects will perform hand movements, which are filmed by video camera. Each movement will be coupled with a tone, and both the movement and tone will be fed back to the subject digitally via headphones and a video screen. In each WP, specific tasks, feedback transformations and parametrically increasing temporal delays between the executed action and the perceived auditory-visual (i.e. multisensory) feedback will be used.

It is expected that predictions of the audio/visual sensory consequences of one’s own actions are generally disturbed in patients with schizophrenia, especially if hallucinations and/or passivity phenomena are present. It is hypothesized that the posterior superior temporal sulcus and posterior parietal cortex form a supramodal neural network, which is dysactivated in patients with relevant symptoms (WP1). In WP2, the reduced down-regulation of primary sensory cortical areas for the perception of ‘own’ in contrast to ‘other’ movements is expected. In WP3, reduced fronto-parietal activation is anticipated for the processing of one’s own tool-use consequences in patients.

These projects will help us better understand the pathophysiology of core symptoms and their neural network dysfunctions in patients with schizophrenia.

Who’s working on PACT-SZ?

Principal investigator: Benjamin Straube

Former PhD student: Lukas Uhlmann

Associated Postdoc: Bianca van Kemenade

Former associated PhD students: Mareike Pazen

Cooperations regarding action and perception

SFB 135, IRTG 1901

Related publications

van Kemenade, B. M., Arikan, B. E., Podranski, K., Steinsträter, O., Kircher, T., & Straube, B. (2019). Distinct Roles for the Cerebellum, Angular Gyrus, and Middle Temporal Gyrus in Action–Feedback Monitoring. Cerebral Cortex, 29(4), 1520–1531.

Schmitter, C., Steinsträter, O., Kircher, T., van Kemenade, B.M.*, Straube, B.* (accepted). Commonalities and differences in predictive neural processing of discrete vs continuous action feedback. NeuroImage   *contributed equally IF: 5.902

Straube, B., van Kemenade, B. M., Kircher, T., & Schülke, R. (2020). Transcranial direct current stimulation improves action-outcome monitoring in schizophrenia spectrum disorder. Brain Communications.

Uhlmann, L., Pazen, M., van Kemenade, B.M., Kircher, T., & Straube, B. (accepted). Neural correlates of self-other distinction in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders: The roles of agency and hand identity. Schizophrenia Bulleting IF: 7.958

Arikan, B. E., Kemenade, B. M. van, Straube, B., Harris, L. R., & Kircher, T. (2017). Voluntary and Involuntary Movements Widen the Window of Subjective Simultaneity. I-Perception, 8(1).

van Kemenade, B. M., Arikan, B. E., Kircher, T., & Straube, B. (2017). The angular gyrus is a supramodal comparator area in action–outcome monitoring. Brain Structure and Function, 22(8), 3691–3703.

van Kemenade, B. M., Kircher, T., Arikan, B. E., & Straube, B. (2016). Predicting the sensory consequences of one’s own action: First evidence for multisensory facilitation. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. 

Bitsch, F., Berger, P., Nagels, A., Falkenberg, I., & Straube, B. (2018). Impaired right temporo-parietal junction – hippocampus connectivity in schizophrenia and its relevance for representing other minds. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 1–12.

Straube, B., Schülke, R., Drewing, K., Kircher, T., & Kemenade, B. M. van. (2017). Hemispheric differences in the processing of visual consequences of active vs. passive movements: a transcranial direct current stimulation study. Experimental Brain Research, 1–10.

Straube, B., Van Kemenade, B. M., Arikan, B. E., Fiehler, K., Leube, D. T., Harris, L. R., & Kircher, T. (2017). Predicting the multisensory consequences of one’s own action: Bold suppression in auditory and visual cortices. PLoS ONE, 12(1).

Straube, B., Green, A., Sass, K., & Kircher, T. (2014). Superior Temporal Sulcus Disconnectivity During Processing of Metaphoric Gestures in Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 40(4), 936–944.