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Schizophr Bull. 2010 Sep;36(5):991-1000. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbp003. Epub 2009 Mar 12.

Reductions in the N1 and P2 auditory event-related potentials in first-hospitalized and chronic schizophrenia.

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Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street NBG21, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


The N1 auditory event-related potential (ERP) is reduced in chronic schizophrenia, as is the P2 to attended tones. N1 reduction may be endophenotypic for schizophrenia, being reduced in twins of schizophrenic patients and showing heritability. Results in family members, however, are equivocal, with abnormally small N1 (consistent with an endophenotype) and abnormally large N1 (inconsistent with an endophenotype) reported. P2 has been little studied in schizophrenia or family members. One crucial step in establishing endophenotypes is to rule out causal chronicity factors. We examined schizophrenia patients within 1 year of first hospitalization (most within 2 wk), chronically ill patients, and matched controls to examine N1 and P2 reductions and disease stage. Two active target detection oddball tasks were used, one with 97-dB tones against 70-dB white masking noise, the second with 97-dB tones without noise. Results from 8 samples are reported: first-hospitalized patients and matched controls and chronic patients and matched controls for the 2 tasks. N1 and P2 were measured from the standard stimuli. N1 and P2 were significantly reduced in chronic patients, as expected, and reduced in first-hospitalized patients. Because N1 and P2 are reduced even at the first hospitalization for schizophrenia, they may serve as viable electrophysiological endophenotypes for the disorder. However, deficit early in the disease is necessary but not sufficient to establish these ERPs as endophenotypes. Deficits must next be demonstrated in at least a subset of unaffected family members, a crucial criterion for an endophenotype.

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