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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Jul;28 Suppl 1:S35-9.

Cortical coordination dynamics and the disorganization syndrome in schizophrenia.

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Center for Complex Systems & Brain Sciences, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA.


There has been a long history of investigation in the fields of neuropsychology and cognitive psychology into the question of functional integration in the brain. Each of the several dominant themes in that history can be interpreted as representing an important feature of a unitary general mechanism that integrates distributed processes in the cerebral cortex. This mechanism must allow local areas to function within the large-scale anatomical structure of the cortex so as to satisfy competing requirements for stability and flexibility. Each specialized cortical area must perform a unique role by expressing its own form of information, yet must have its performance constrained by interactions with other areas to which it is connected. In order to generate adaptive behavior within changing and not fully predictable environments, the cortex as a whole must be able to rapidly coordinate the activities of variable assemblages of areas that can collectively express consensual information that is appropriate for the functional requirements engendered by each successive stage of behavioral performance. This paper proposes that the phase synchronization of neuronal population activity from different cortical areas may serve a role in large-scale coordination. Theoretical studies suggest that the cortex normally operates in a metastable dynamic regime in which groups of areas are able to coordinate rapidly and reversibly their activities through changes in their degree of phase synchronization. A disruption of phase synchronization, leading to an excess of local information expression by cortical areas, is proposed as a contributing factor to the disorganization syndrome in schizophrenia.

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