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The influence of glutamatergic antagonism on motor variability, and comparison to findings in schizophrenia patients

  • Erik Johnsen (a1) (a2), Ole Bernt Fasmer (a1) (a2), Heidi van Wageningen (a3), Kenneth Hugdahl (a1) (a3) (a4), Erik Hauge (a5) and Hugo A. Jørgensen (a2)...



The primary aim of this explorative study was to investigate the influence of the glutamatergic N‐methyl‐d‐aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist memantine on motor activity in healthy subjects. Secondarily, we wanted to compare these data to findings in a sample of schizophrenia patients.


The healthy subjects acted as their own controls in an open‐within‐subject design. Motor activity was recorded with an actigraph worn for 24 h in the drug‐free, and steady‐state memantine conditions, respectively. Motor activity levels for 1‐min intervals were analysed by means of both linear and nonlinear methods. The schizophrenia patients were monitored only once, without memantine manipulation.


The root mean square successive differences (RMSSD) and the RMSSD/SD ratio were increased by memantine, and memantine was also associated with lower autocorrelation (lag 1) but in recordings from the right arm only. These movement patterns partly corresponded to those found in a sample of drug‐treated schizophrenia patients. Total activity level, standard deviation (SD) and sample entropy were not significantly different in the memantine versus drug‐free condition.


The findings suggest a role for the NMDA receptor in the regulation of motor activity in healthy individuals as memantine increased the variability in the motor recordings and the alterations between adjacent motor recordings. It is suggested that the findings may be relevant to the role played by glutamate and the NMDA receptor functioning to the motor disturbances in schizophrenia.


Corresponding author

Dr Erik Johnsen, Division of Psychiatry, Haukeland University Hospital, Sandviksleitet 1, N‐5035 Bergen, Norway. Tel: +47 55958400; Fax: +47 55958436; E‐mail:


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