Dr. Raymond Chan of the Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, and Key Lab of Mental Health, of the Institute of Psychology chaired the special symposium, titled “New insights in the nature and significance of neurological signs in schizophrenia spectrum disorders: An update of genetics, cognitive, clinical, and functional evidence”, at the 12th International Congress of Schizophrenia Research (ICOSR) in San Diego (March 28th- April 1st 2009). Our knowledge of neurological signs in schizophrenia has progressed quietly in the past decades. This may be mainly due to the limitations of conventional methodologies. With the technological advances in genetics, cognitive neurosciences and neuroimaging, the literature on neurological signs in schizophrenia has grown significantly and the prospects for important advances are positive. Neurological signs, particularly the soft signs, have been associated with neuropsychopathology of schizophrenia, and have been proposed as biological markers for this clinical group. This symposium adopts a transdisciplinary approach to investigate the nature and significance of neurological signs in schizophrenia. In this symposium we present evidence of genetic, cognitive, clinical, and functional relationships to neurological signs in schizophrenia.
In this symposium, Dr. Chan and his speakers, Dr. Paola Dazzan from Institute of Psychiatry of London, Dr. Richard Sanders from United States, and Dr. Johannes Schroder from Germany, shared their views and updated findings on neurological soft signs in schizophrenia. In particular, Dr. Chan focused on the potential use of neurological soft signs as the endophenotypes for schizophrenia and extended it to develop a strategy for this particular marker. Dr. Dazzan presented her findings of neurological signs and their anatomical correlates, over 6 years after the first psychotic episode. Dr. Schroder highlighted the use of functional imaging to study neurological soft signs in schizophrenia. On the other hand, Dr. Sanders approached a clinical approach to studying neurological soft signs in his longitudinal sample of schizophrenia. Moreover, Dr. Robert Buchanan, from Maryland Psychiatric Research Centre, acted as the discussant for this symposium. During this symposium, the presenters and the commenter agreed the crucial role of neurological soft signs in schizophrenia and have proposed a regular meeting among the team in the coming years. More intensive and concrete work will be initiated in the near future. The team would like to make a higher impact of our work and look forward to an international network of neurological soft signs in schizophrenia.