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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2009 Feb;12(1):125-35. doi: 10.1017/S1461145708009322. Epub 2008 Sep 4.

Central auditory dysfunction in schizophrenia as revealed by the mismatch negativity (MMN) and its magnetic equivalent MMNm: a review.

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  • 1Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Since the early 1990s, the auditory change-detection response, mismatch negativity (MMN) and its magnetoencephalographic (MEG) equivalent MMNm have been applied in a large number of studies on schizophrenia. These studies have enhanced our understanding of the central auditory dysfunction underlying schizophrenia. The attenuation of the MMN amplitude is a systematic and robust neurophysiological finding in these patients. The gradual attenuation of the MMN amplitude resulting from frequency change reflects the progress of the disease, particularly the impairment occurring as a function of illness duration, whereas the MMN deficiency for duration change may be more closely linked to the genetic aspect of the illness. Electroencephalographic (EEG) and magnetoencephalographic (MEG) studies, together, suggest that both the temporal and frontal cortices contributing to MMN generation are affected in schizophrenia patients. Furthermore, abnormalities in auditory perception and discrimination revealed by a deficient temporal MMN generator process might be associated with patients' positive symptoms, whereas the dampened frontal attention-switching function, suggested by the attenuated responses of the frontal MMN generator, might contribute to the negative symptoms such as social withdrawal. In addition, gradual MMN amplitude reduction, in particular that for frequency change, reflects cognitive and functional impairment occurring as a function of illness duration. Finally, as MMN can be detected even in animals such as the mouse, it might provide a useful biomarker for assessing the effects of the drugs developed to fight the cognitive and functional impairments in schizophrenia patients.

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