Between warning signal (S1) and imperative signal (S2), the EEG shifts negatively (contingent negative variation, CNV) reflecting preparation and expectancy. Reduced CNV and continued negativity after S2 (post-imperative negative variation, PINV) have been repeatedly found in schizophrenic patients and have been interpreted as a deficit in attentional processes (CNV) and as uncertainty about the correctness of one's own response to the S2 (PINV). Recent studies obtained a CNV reduction specifically at central sites but not at frontal ones. The present study investigated whether these alterations of slow negative potentials depend on present state of symptoms, on the particular task used, and on neuroleptic medication. Therefore, out- patients and in-patients were studied, two different S1-S2 tasks were used, and the control groups were healthy subjects and patients with Parkinson's disease. The central CNV reduction was stable across tasks and across in- patients and outpatients. Frontal CNV was reduced in in-patients but in only one of the two tasks in outpatients. The schizophrenic patients' enhanced PINV was larger contralaterally than ipsilaterally to the responding hand, correlated with medication, and occurred in similar way in patients with Parkinson's disease. Thus, the PINV increase might reflect the Parkinsonian side effects of the anti-psychotic medication. In contrast, the central CNV reduction appears as a stable marker of schizophrenia, the frontal CNV reduction as a state-dependent effect. The central CNV reduction might reflect impairment in forming stable stimulus-response associations, the relative frontal enhancement might reflect the out-patients' attempt at compensating that impairment.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)