Background: Gamma-band oscillations are prominently impaired in schizophrenia, but the nature of the deficit and relationship to perceptual processes is unclear.
Methods: 16 patients with chronic schizophrenia (ScZ) and 16 age-matched healthy controls completed a visual paradigm while magnetoencephalographic (MEG) data was recorded. Participants had to detect randomly occurring stimulus acceleration while viewing a concentric moving grating. MEG data were analyzed for spectral power (1-100Hz) at sensor- and source-level to examine the brain regions involved in aberrant rhythmic activity, and for contribution of differences in baseline activity towards the generation of low- and high-frequency power.
Results: Our data show reduced gamma-band power at sensor level in schizophrenia patients during stimulus processing while alpha-band and baseline spectrum were intact. Differences in oscillatory activity correlated with reduced behavioral detection rates in the schizophrenia group and higher scores on the "Cognitive Factor" of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. Source reconstruction revealed that extra-striate (fusiform/lingual gyrus), but not striate (cuneus), visual cortices contributed towards the reduced activity observed at sensor-level in ScZ patients. Importantly, differences in stimulus-related activity were not due to differences in baseline activity.
Conclusions: Our findings highlight that MEG-measured high-frequency oscillations during visual processing can be robustly identified in ScZ. Our data further suggest impairments that involve dysfunctions in ventral stream processing and a failure to increase gamma-band activity in a task-context. Implications of these findings are discussed in the context of current theories of cortical-subcortical circuit dysfunctions and perceptual processing in ScZ.
Keywords: E/I-balance; MEG; Oscillations; Schizophrenia; Ventral stream; Visual cortex.
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