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Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2014 Mar;14(1):175-88. doi: 10.3758/s13415-014-0252-4.

RT distributional analysis of cognitive-control-related brain activity in first-episode schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California Davis Medical Center, Davis, CA, USA,


Impairments in cognitive control are a defining feature of schizophrenia. Aspects of cognitive control include proactive control-the maintenance of task rules or goals to bias attention and maintain preparedness-and reactive control-the engagement of attention in reaction to changing cognitive demands. Proactive control is thought to be particularly impaired in schizophrenia. We sought to examine proactive and reactive control in schizophrenia, as measured by reaction time (RT) variability, and especially long RTs, which are thought to represent lapses in proactive control, during the Stroop paradigm. Furthermore, we sought to examine the neural underpinnings of lapses in proactive control and the subsequent engagement of reactive control in those with schizophrenia, as compared to healthy controls, using fMRI. We found that patients with schizophrenia displayed greater RT variability and more extremely long RTs than controls suggesting that proactive control was weaker in the schizophrenia than in the control group. All of the subjects engaged regions of the cognitive control network during long RTs, consistent with an engagement of reactive control following a failure in proactive control on these trials. The schizophrenia group, however, displayed significantly diminished activity in these regions relative to controls. Our results suggest increased failures in proactive control, but also impaired reactive control, in schizophrenia as compared to healthy subjects.

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