Disruption of Auditory and Visual Attention in Schizophrenia

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Event-related potentials (ERP), N2b, P300, Auditory, Visual, Bimodal, Attention

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Disruption of attention is a hallmark symptom of schizophrenia, and event-related potentials have been instrumental in studying this cognitive deficit. Event-related potentials (ERPs) have been used to study attention and its disruption in schizophrenia, with the most common finding of a reduced P300 component in auditory tasks. Some studies have found sparing of the P300 in visual attention, but reduction of an earlier attention-sensitive N2b, suggesting that the N2b may be a more sensitive index of attention disruption in schizophrenia. The current study compared visual and auditory attention using both unimodal and bimodal stimulus presentation in the same participants to examine the impact of schizophrenia on attention at both the early N2b and later P300 stages. Both N2b and P300 showed attention effects, being larger to targets than non-targets in all tasks. The N2b was reduced in the patient group in all tasks except the bimodal attend visual task, while the P300 was not reduced in the patients in any condition. This indicates that early attention, as indexed by the N2b, is differentially impaired in patients with schizophrenia, even when later attention, indexed by the P300, is intact.

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Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, v. 156, issue 2, p. 105-116