Investigation of electrophysiological precursors of attentional errors in schizophrenia: Toward a better understanding of abnormal proactive control engagement

J Psychiatr Res. 2021 Aug:140:235-242. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.05.079. Epub 2021 Jun 2.


Impaired cognitive control has been associated with the occurrence of attentional errors in those with schizophrenia. However, the extent of altered proactive or reactive control underlying such errors is still unknown. Twenty-two patients with schizophrenia and 21 healthy matched controls performed a detection task (i.e., the continuous temporal expectancy task). Electrophysiological measures of proactive and reactive control were based on two periods of interest: during the target presentation (the critical window) and four trials before the critical window. Regarding the proactive mode, patients with schizophrenia exhibited a specific decrease in frontal midline theta power during the critical window before a miss compared to a correct detection. In contrast, the contingent negative variation amplitude was altered regardless of the response type, four trials before the critical window. Regarding the reactive mode, a reduced P3 amplitude was revealed later before a miss than a correct detection with differences apparent only two trials before the critical window in patients with schizophrenia, whereas it was observable up to four trials prior in healthy controls. Moreover, only the P3 amplitude reduction in patients with schizophrenia predicted the miss rate and was anti-correlated with the clinical symptoms. Thus, our results revealed a specific impairment of the proactive goal-updating process before an error and an altered implementation of the endogenous proactive mode engagement regardless of the response type. The results also highlighted the strong relationship between the disrupted reactive mode and the increased rate of attentional errors and severity of the clinical symptoms of schizophrenia.

Keywords: Attentional lapses; Clinical symptoms; Cognitive control; Event-related potential (ERP); Time-frequency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia* / complications