Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia show deficiencies of basic neurophysiological sorting mechanisms. This study further investigated this issue, focusing on the two phenomena, laterality of coding and auditory forward masking. A specific audiometric method for use in psychiatry was the measuring set up to register brain stem audiograms (ABRs). A sample of 49 schizophrenic patients was compared with three control groups consisting of healthy reference subjects (n=49), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) patients (n=29), Asperger syndrome (AS) patients (n=13) and drug-induced psychotic patients (n=14). Schizophrenic patients showed significant abnormal laterality of brainstem activity in wave II of the auditory brainstem response (ABR) in comparison with all other study groups. Forward masking effects in the superior olive complex were coded significantly differently by schizophrenic patients compared to control groups except for the AS group. The results suggest deficits in the coding of auditory stimuli in the lower parts of the auditory pathway in schizophrenia and indicate that increased peripheral lateral asymmetry and forward masking aberrances could be neurophysiological markers for the disorder.
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