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Evidence for excessive frontal evoked gamma oscillatory activity in schizophrenia during working memory

Barr MS, Farzan F, Tran LC, Chen R, Fitzgerald PB, Daskalakis ZJ

Gamma (gamma) oscillations (30-50 Hz) elicited during working memory (WM) are altered in schizophrenia (SCZ). However, the nature of the relationship between evoked frontal oscillatory activity, WM performance and symptom severity has yet to be ascertained. This study had two objectives. First, to extend previous studies by examining delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma (delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma) oscillatory activities during the N-back task in SCZ patients compared to healthy subjects; second, to evaluate the relationship between oscillatory activities elicited during the N-back, performance, and clinical symptoms in SCZ patients. Patients with SCZ elicited excessive frontal gamma oscillatory activity that was most pronounced in the 3-back condition compared to healthy subjects. Reduced frontal beta activity at all WM loads was also observed in patients with SCZ compared to healthy subjects. Task performance was inversely correlated with negative symptoms but not with positive symptoms. Our findings suggest that evoked frontal oscillatory activities during WM are selectively altered in the gamma and beta frequency bands that may contribute to WM impairment in SCZ patients. These findings may provide important insights into the pathophysiology underlying WM deficits, its relationship to negative symptoms and may represent a potential neurobiological marker for cognitive enhancing strategies in SCZ.

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