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Impaired mismatch negativity (MMN) generation in schizophrenia as a function of stimulus deviance, probability, and interstimulus/interdeviant interval.

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  • 1Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research/New York University School of Medicine, Orangeburg 10962, USA.


Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder associated with disturbances in perception and cognition. Event-related potentials (ERP) provide a mechanism for evaluating potential mechanisms underlying neurophysiological dysfunction in schizophrenia. Mismatch negativity (MMN) is a short-duration auditory cognitive ERP component that indexes operation of the auditory sensory ('echoic') memory system. Prior studies have demonstrated impaired MMN generation in schizophrenia along with deficits in auditory sensory memory performance. MMN is elicited in an auditory oddball paradigm in which a sequence of repetitive standard tones is interrupted infrequently by a physically deviant ('oddball') stimulus. The present study evaluates MMN generation as a function of deviant stimulus probability, interstimulus interval, interdeviant interval and the degree of pitch separation between the standard and deviant stimuli. The major findings of the present study are first, that MMN amplitude is decreased in schizophrenia across a broad range of stimulus conditions, and second, that the degree of deficit in schizophrenia is largest under conditions when MMN is normally largest. The pattern of deficit observed in schizophrenia differs from the pattern observed in other conditions associated with MMN dysfunction, including Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and alcohol intoxication.

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