Fluctuating asymmetry in patients with schizophrenia is related to hallucinations and thought disorganisation

Christian Stephan-Otto, Federica Lombardini, Christian Núñez, Carl Senior, Susana Ochoa, Judith Usall, Gildas Brébion*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fluctuating asymmetry represents the degree to which the right and left side of the body are asymmetrical, and is a sign of developmental instability. Higher levels of fluctuating asymmetry have been observed in individuals within the schizophrenia spectrum. We aimed to explore the associations of fluctuating asymmetry with psychotic and affective symptoms in schizophrenia patients, as well as with propensity to these symptoms in non-clinical individuals. A measure of morphological fluctuating asymmetry was calculated for 39 patients with schizophrenia and 60 healthy individuals, and a range of clinical and subclinical psychiatric symptoms was assessed. Regression analyses of the fluctuating asymmetry measure were conducted within each group. In the patient cohort, fluctuating asymmetry was significantly associated with the hallucination and thought disorganisation scores. T-test comparisons revealed that the patients presenting either hallucinations or thought disorganisation were significantly more asymmetrical than were the healthy individuals, while the patients without these key symptoms were equivalent to the healthy individuals. A positive association with the anxiety score emerged in a subsample of 36 healthy participants who were rated on affective symptoms. These findings suggest that fluctuating asymmetry may be an indicator of clinical hallucinations and thought disorganisation rather than an indicator of schizophrenia disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112816
JournalPsychiatry Research
Early online date25 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Anxiety
  • Developmental instability
  • Fluctuating asymmetry
  • Positive symptoms
  • Schizophrenia


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