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Schizophr Bull. 2017 Jul 1;43(4):801-813. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbw174.

A Neural "Tuning Curve" for Multisensory Experience and Cognitive-Perceptual Schizotypy.

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Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Colchester, UK.
Institute of Mental Health Research, Brain and Mind Research Centre, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute of CAMH, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Science, "G.d'Annunzio" University of Chieti, and ITAB-Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies, Chieti, Italy.
Department of Psychological, Humanities and Territorial Sciences, "G.d'Annunzio" University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy.
Russel H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.
F. M. Kirby Center for Functional Brain Imaging, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, MD.
Department of Radiology, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu, China.
Departments of Psychiatry and of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Our coherent perception of external events is enabled by the integration of inputs from different senses occurring within a range of temporal offsets known as the temporal binding window (TBW), which varies from person to person. A relatively wide TBW may increase the likelihood that stimuli originating from different environmental events are erroneously integrated and abnormally large TBW has been found in psychiatric disorders characterized by unusual perceptual experiences. Despite strong evidence of inter-individual differences in TBW, both within clinical and nonclinical populations, the neurobiological underpinnings of this variability remain unclear. We adopted an integrated strategy linking TBW to temporal dynamics in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-resting-state activity and cortical excitation/inhibition (E/I) balance. E/I balance was indexed by glutamate/Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA) concentrations and common variation in glutamate and GABA genes in a healthy sample. Stronger resting-state long-range temporal correlations, indicated by larger power law exponent (PLE), in the auditory cortex, robustly predicted narrower audio-tactile TBW, which was in turn associated with lower cognitive-perceptual schizotypy. Furthermore, PLE was highest and TBW narrowest for individuals with intermediate levels of E/I balance, with shifts towards either extreme resulting in reduced multisensory temporal precision and increased schizotypy, effectively forming a neural "tuning curve" for multisensory experience and schizophrenia risk. Our findings shed light on the neurobiological underpinnings of multisensory integration and its potentially clinically relevant inter-individual variability.


GABA (gamma-amminobutyric acid); excitation; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) resting-state activity; glutamate; inhibition balance; long-range temporal correlations; multilocus genetic score; multisensory perception; schizotypy

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