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Disrupted cortical conductivity in schizophrenia: TMS-EEG study

Frantseva M, Cui RJ, Farzan F, Chinta L, Perez Velazquez JL, Daskalakis ZJ.

Schizophrenia is conceptualized as a failure of cognitive integration, and altered oscillatory properties of neurocircuits are associated with its symptoms. We hypothesized that abnormal characteristics of neural networks may alter functional connectivity and distort propagation of activation in schizophrenic brains. Thus, electroencephalography (EEG) responses to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of motor cortex were compared between schizophrenia and healthy subjects. There was no difference in the initial response. However, TMS-induced waves of recurrent excitation spreading across the cortex were observed in schizophrenia, while in healthy subjects the activation faded away soon after stimulation. This widespread activation in schizophrenia was associated with increased oscillatory activities in the proximal central leads and in fronto-temporo-parietal leads bilaterally. A positive correlation was found between increased TMS-induced cortical activation in gamma frequency and positive symptoms of schizophrenia, while negative symptoms were correlated with activation in theta and delta bands. We suggest that excessive activation in response to stimulation in schizophrenia brains may lead to abnormal propagation of the signal that could potentially result in aberrant activity in areas remote from the activation origin. This mechanism may account for the positive symptoms of schizophrenia and could worsen signal to noise deficits, jeopardizing adequate information processing with ensuing cognitive deficits.

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