Research Article| Volume 22, ISSUE 8, P995-1003, August 1987

Asymmetric rotational (circling) behavior, a dopamine-related asymmetry: Preliminary findings in unmedicated and never-medicated schizophrenic patients

  • H.Stefan Bracha
    Address reprint request to Dr. H. Stefan Bracha, Department of Psychiatry (M-003), University of California, San Diego La Jolla, CA 92093.
    Psychiatry Service, San Diego VA Medical Center, and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
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      Circling behavior is one of the best understood behaviors in animals. It is, for the most part, dopaminergically mediated and related to asymmetry in dopaminergic activity between the left and right basal ganglia or left and right frontal cortex. As a rule, animals rotate toward the hemisphere with lower striatal dopaminergic activity. A direct technique to find human analogs of circling behavior was not available. We have developed an automated rotometer with which we can apply the circling rodent model to humans. Leftprone circling behavior (neglect of right-sided turning) was found in 10 unmedicated schizophrenic patients, whereas 85 normal controls demonstrated almost equal right and left turning. These preliminary results may suggest the presence of a dopaminergic asymmetry in some unmedicated schizophrenic patients ; that is, right anterior subcortical or cortical structures of the brain may manifest a relative dopaminergic overactivity compared to left anterior structures in at least some unmedicated patients with schizophrenia.
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