Oscillatory Neural Signatures of Visual Perception Across Developmental Stages in Individuals With 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome

Biol Psychiatry. 2022 Mar 7;S0006-3223(22)01069-1. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2022.02.961. Online ahead of print.


Background: Numerous behavioral studies have highlighted the contribution of visual perceptual deficits to the nonverbal cognitive profile of individuals with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. However, the neurobiological processes underlying these widespread behavioral alterations are yet to be fully understood. Thus, in this paper, we investigated the role of neural oscillations toward visuoperceptual deficits to elucidate the neurobiology of sensory impairments in deletion carriers.

Methods: We acquired 125 high-density electroencephalography recordings during a visual grating task in a group of 62 deletion carriers and 63 control subjects. Stimulus-elicited oscillatory responses were analyzed with 1) time-frequency analysis using wavelets decomposition at sensor and source level, 2) intertrial phase coherence, and 3) Granger causality connectivity in source space. Additional analyses examined the development of neural oscillations across age bins.

Results: Deletion carriers had decreased theta-band (4-8 Hz) and gamma-band (58-68 Hz) spectral power compared with control subjects in response to the visual stimuli, with an absence of age-related increase of theta- and gamma-band responses. Moreover, adult deletion carriers had decreased gamma- and theta-band responses but increased alpha/beta desynchronization (10-25 Hz) that correlated with behavioral performance. Granger causality estimates reflected an increased frontal-occipital connectivity in the beta range (22-40 Hz).

Conclusions: Deletion carriers exhibited decreased theta- and gamma-band responses to visual stimuli, while alpha/beta desynchronization was preserved. Overall, the lack of age-related changes in deletion carriers implicates developmental impairments in circuit mechanisms underlying neural oscillations. The dissociation between the maturation of theta/gamma- and alpha/beta-band responses may indicate a selective impairment in supragranular cortical layers, leading to compensatory top-down connectivity.

Keywords: 22q11DS; Gamma-band oscillations; Maturation; Occipital cortex; Psychosis; Top-down modulation.