Impaired Midline Theta Power and Connectivity During Proactive Cognitive Control in Schizophrenia

Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Nov 1;84(9):675-683. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2018.04.021. Epub 2018 May 25.


Background: Disrupted proactive cognitive control, a form of early selection and active goal maintenance, is hypothesized to underlie the broad cognitive deficits observed in patients with schizophrenia (SPs). Current research suggests that the disrupted activation within and connectivity between regions of the cognitive control network contribute to disrupted proactive cognitive control; however, no study has examined these mechanisms using an AX Continuous Performance Test task in schizophrenia.

Methods: Twenty-six SPs (17 male subjects; mean age 34.46 ± 8.77 years) and 28 healthy control participants (HCs; 16 male subjects; mean age 31.43 ± 7.23 years) underwent an electroencephalogram while performing the AX Continuous Performance Test. To examine the extent of activation and level of connectivity within the cognitive control network, power, intertrial phase clustering, and intersite phase clustering metrics were calculated and analyzed.

Results: SPs exhibited expected general decrements in behavioral performance relative to HCs and a more selective deficit in conditions requiring proactive cognitive control. Additionally, SPs exhibited deficits in midline theta power and connectivity during proactive cognitive control trials. Specifically, HCs exhibited significantly greater theta power for B cues relative to A cues, whereas SPs exhibited no significant differences between A- and B-cue theta power. Additionally, differential theta connectivity patterns were observed in SPs and HCs. Behavioral measures of proactive cognitive control predicted functional outcomes in SPs.

Conclusions: This study suggests that low-frequency midline theta activity is selectively disrupted during proactive cognitive control in SPs. The disrupted midline theta activity may reflect a failure of SPs to proactively recruit cognitive control processes.

Keywords: AX-CPT; Electroencephalography; Functional outcomes; Proactive cognitive control; Schizophrenia; Theta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reaction Time
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*
  • Young Adult