Attentional modulation of the P50 suppression deficit in recent-onset and chronic schizophrenia.

TitleAttentional modulation of the P50 suppression deficit in recent-onset and chronic schizophrenia.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsYee, CM, Williams TJ, White PM, Nuechterlein KH, Ames D, Subotnik KL
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Date Published2010 Feb
KeywordsAdult, Age of Onset, Attention, Chronic Disease, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Female, Humans, Male, Reaction Time, Schizophrenia, Sensory Gating, Severity of Illness Index, Young Adult

Schizophrenia is associated with deficits in P50 suppression to the second stimulus in a pair, a process often conceptualized as a preattentive index of sensory gating. This study assessed the malleability of the deficit by determining whether early attentional control can influence P50 gating across different phases of schizophrenia. Participants included 28 patients in the recent-onset (n = 16) or chronic (n = 12) phase of illness and 28 healthy comparison subjects. During the standard paradigm, chronic schizophrenia patients exhibited impaired P50 suppression relative to healthy subjects, whereas recent-onset schizophrenia patients were intermediate. Directing voluntary attention toward the initial stimulus yielded substantial improvements in the P50 ratio; recent-onset schizophrenia patients achieved ratio scores comparable to those of healthy participants, whereas chronic patients also improved and could no longer be distinguished clearly from the healthy comparison sample. Directing attention toward the second stimulus enhanced P50 amplitude to the second stimulus across groups, possibly because activation of the inhibitory mechanism was overridden or circumvented by task demands. Thus, P50 suppression may be primarily preattentive under standard conditions, but manipulation of early attention can exert a modulatory influence on P50, indicating that the suppression deficit is malleable in schizophrenia without pharmacological agents.

Alternate JournalJ Abnorm Psychol