Event-related gamma activity in schizophrenia patients during a visual backward-masking task
ABSTRACT Schizophrenia patients experience deficits in many aspects of cognition and perception. Abnormalities in gamma activity may underlie some of these deficits, including rapid processing of visual stimuli. This study examined event-related gamma range activity during a visual backward-masking task in schizophrenia patients and normal comparison subjects.
Event-related gamma activity was recorded in 15 normal comparison subjects and 32 schizophrenia patients. Participants had event-related gamma activity recorded while viewing 60 unmasked visual targets and 240 trials of visual backward masking. Effects of group, accuracy (correct versus incorrect), stimulus-onset asynchrony, and regional activity (left versus right hemisphere, anterior versus posterior regions) were assessed.
Schizophrenia patients had significantly reduced gamma activity in relation to comparison subjects during the backward-masking task. Normal comparison subjects showed significantly greater gamma activity in the right hemisphere, whereas schizophrenia patients did not show this pattern of lateralization. For the unmasked target, there was no group effect and no significant interactions in gamma-band responses.
These results extend previous findings of abnormal gamma range activity in schizophrenia patients. Patients showed overall less gamma activity and failed to show lateralization of activity to the right hemisphere during masking, but they showed comparable levels of gamma activity to unmasked stimuli. Schizophrenia patients' poorer performance during a masking task may be partly influenced by this abnormal level and the distribution of gamma activity.