Reduced cortical inhibition in first-episode schizophrenia

T. Wobrok, M. Schneider, D. Kadovic, T. Schneider-Axmann, Ullrich Ecker, W. Retz, M. Rosler, P. Falkai

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72 Citations (Scopus)


Disturbances in cortico-cortical and cortico-subcortical circuits in schizophrenia have been described by previous neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) provides a neurophysiological technique for the measurement of cortical excitability, especially of the motoneural system. Previous studies using paired-pulse TMS to investigate short-interval cortical inhibition (SICI) and intracortical facilitation (ICF), mainly involving chronic schizophrenia patients, have been inconsistent and only one study in first-episode patients has been conducted so far.We assessed SICI (interstimulus interval, ISI, 3 milliseconds, ms) and ICF (ISI 7 ms) in 29 first-episode schizophrenia patients (FE-SZ) with limited exposure to antipsychotic treatment against measures of 28 healthy controls (HC). Amplitudes of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were measured from the left and right first dorsal interosseus muscle (FDI). The conditioning stimulus was set at 80% intensity of resting motor threshold (RMT) and the test stimulus (TS) was set at an intensity that produced an MEP amplitude of about 1 mV.For SICI conditions, FE-SZ demonstrated significantly higher MEP amplitudes from left motor cortex (right FDI) compared to HC, and for MEPs from right motor cortex (left FDI) a similar trend was observable (FE-SZ 41% vs. HC 21% of TS, p = 0.017 for left motor cortex, and FE-SZ 59% vs. HC 31% of TS, p = 0.059 for right motor cortex; Mann–Whitney U-test). No significant difference in MEPs could be detected for ICF on either hemisphere. In addition, there was no difference in left and right RMT comparing patients and control subjects. Our result of a reduced SICI in a large sample of well characterized first-episode schizophrenia patients suggests that a GABAergic deficit may be involved in schizophrenic pathophysiology, already early in the disease course, supporting the intracortical dysconnectivity hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-261
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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