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Neurophysiological Characterization of Attentional Performance Dysfunction in Schizophrenia Patients in a Reverse-Translated Task.


Attentional dysfunction in schizophrenia (SZ) contributes to the functional deficits ubiquitous to the disorder. Identifying the neural substrates of translational measures of attentional dysfunction would prove invaluable for developing therapeutics. Attentional performance is typically assessed via continuous performance tasks (CPTs), though many place additional cognitive demands with little cross-species test-relevance. Herein, event-related potentials (ERPs) were used to investigate the neurophysiological correlates of attention and response inhibition of SZ and healthy participants, whereas they performed the cross-species-translated five-choice CPT (5C-CPT). Chronically ill, medicated SZ patients and matched controls (n=25 SZ and 26 controls) were tested in the 5C-CPT, in conjunction with ERP and source localization assessments. The ERPs generated in response to correctly identified target and non-target trials revealed three peaks for analysis, corresponding to sensory registration (P1), response selection (N2), and response action (P3). Behavioral responses revealed that SZ patients exhibited impaired attention driven by impaired and slower target detection, and poorer cognitive control. ERPs revealed decreased N2 amplitudes reflecting poorer response selection for both target and non-target trials, plus reduced non-target P3s in SZ patients, the latter accounting for 37% of variance in negative symptoms. Source analyses revealed that the brain regions of significant differences localized to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during response selection and the posterior cingulate cortex for cognitive processes. SZ patients exhibited impaired attention and cognitive control, characterized by less robust frontal and parietal ERP distributions across the response selection and cognitive response time windows, providing neurophysiological characterization of attentional dysfunction in SZ using the reverse-translated 5C-CPT.

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