Event-related potentials elicited by distractors in an auditory oddball paradigm in schizophrenia

Psychiatry Res. 2005 Nov 15;137(1-2):49-59. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2005.07.017. Epub 2005 Oct 6.


Patients with schizophrenia are affected more adversely than healthy controls by distracting conditions, due to their inability to adequately apportion attentional resources to targets or distractors. We attempted to re-evaluate the effects of distractors in 25 patients with chronic schizophrenia and in 12 controls. They performed an auditory target-detection task with 1500 Hz tone distractors and an additional control condition where a 1500-Hz tone was used as the target. The rate of target misses for patients with schizophrenia was 3.79% in non-distractor conditions and 14.79% in distractor conditions. Significantly reduced N100 responses to distractors and distractor condition targets were found. P300 responses to all target stimulus categories were reduced, but P300 responses to distractors were equal to those in the control group. There was a reduction of P300 amplitudes to distractors in both groups; however, only the control group showed significant enlargement of P300 amplitude when the distractors became the target stimuli. There is evidence that patients with schizophrenia tend to be less able to allocate their attentional resources adequately to target vs. distractor stimuli. When the distractors became the target stimuli, their responses remained unchanged, which suggests their inability to appropriately integrate stimulus information with contextual information.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pitch Discrimination / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Reversal Learning / physiology
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*