Associations between prepulse inhibition and executive visual attention in children with the 22q11 deletion syndrome

Mol Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;10(6):553-62. doi: 10.1038/


The 22q11 deletion syndrome (DS) results in the loss of approximately 30 gene copies and is associated with possible physical anomalies, varied learning disabilities, and a specific cluster of neurocognitive deficits, including primary impairment in working memory, executive visual attention, and sensorimotor processing. Retrospective studies have suggested that children with 22q11DS are at 25 times greater risk of developing schizophrenia, thus specification of early brain network vulnerabilities among children with 22q11DS is critical. Previously, we reported that children with 22q11DS as compared with sibling controls had selective deficits in visual executive attention, and subsequently found lowered prepulse inhibition (PPI) in these same children. Visual executive attention and PPI recruit the same brain pathways linking prefrontal cortex to basal ganglia structures. To test the specificity of brain pathway vulnerability among children with 22q11DS, we examined visual executive attention and PPI paradigm data collected during the same test session from 21 children with 22q11DS and 25 sibling controls. We predicted lower %PPI and less efficient executive attention scores, and a significant inverse correlation between measures. %PPI in children with 22q11DS as compared with sibling controls was 20% lower, and visual executive attention efficiency scores 40% worse. As predicted, %PPI was inversely correlated only with executive attention efficiency scores. The implications of these findings with regard to brain pathway vulnerability in children with 22q11DS are considered. These results suggest that children with 22q11DS have early functional abnormality in pathways linking the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Child
  • Chromosome Deletion*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 22*
  • Evoked Potentials / genetics*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / genetics*
  • Learning Disabilities / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Neural Inhibition / genetics*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Reaction Time / genetics
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Reflex, Startle / genetics
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology
  • Siblings
  • Syndrome
  • Visual Perception / genetics
  • Visual Perception / physiology*