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Schizophr Res. 2005 Mar 1;73(2-3):297-310.

Impaired mismatch negativity generation in prodromal subjects and patients with schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Cologne, Joseph-Stelzmann-Str. 9, D-50924 Cologne, Germany.



Mismatch negativity (MMN) specifically the response to tone duration deviants has consistently been shown to be reduced in schizophrenia suggesting dysfunction in auditory sensory memory. As part of a multidimensional approach to the early recognition of psychosis, MMN was investigated as a possible risk factor for later development of psychosis in subjects with a prodromal syndrome. Forty-three prodromal subjects, 31 neuroleptic-free inpatients with schizophrenia and 33 healthy controls were studied. A prodromal state was defined by a cluster 'Cognitive Disturbances' as defined by the 'Bonn Scale for the Assessment of Basic Symptoms' (BSABS), which was found highly predictive of first-episode schizophrenia. To elicit MMN, a three-tone auditory oddball paradigm with 10% 'duration deviants' and 10% 'frequency deviants' was used.


MMN amplitudes to tone duration deviants were significantly reduced in the patients with schizophrenia compared to controls. The putatively prodromal subjects also showed a slight, though non-significant reduction of the MMN amplitude that was intermediate between normal controls and patients with schizophrenia, and with a larger within-group variance.


These results support the view that abnormalities in temporal processing are particularly pronounced in patients with schizophrenia. Prodromal subjects are a heterogeneous group with regard to outcome and time until transition to a first psychotic episode. Follow-up of these putatively prodromal subjects will show whether MMN amplitudes further reduce over time in those developing psychosis and if a reduction is state-dependent.

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