Background. While numerous studies have found disturbances in the Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) of patients with schizophrenia linked to task relevant target stimuli (most notably a reduction in P300 amplitude), few have examined ERPs to task irrelevant non-targets. We hypothesize, from current models of dysfunction in information processing in schizophrenia, that there will be less difference between ERPs to targets and non-targets in patients with schizophrenia than in controls.
Methods. EEGs were recorded for 40 subjects with schizophrenia and 40 age and sex matched controls during an auditory oddball reaction time task. ERPs to the targets and non-targets immediately preceding the targets were averaged separately.
Results. There was a disturbance in ERPs to targets but also to non-targets (reduced N100 amplitude and earlier P200 latency) and the difference between target and non-target ERP components (N100 and P200 amplitude and P200 latency), was significantly reduced in the schizophrenic group compared with controls.
Conclusions. These findings suggest a disturbance in processing task relevant and irrelevant stimuli, consistent with Gray's (1998) hypothesis of misattributions in the ‘match[ratio]mismatch’ of novel (target) and familiar (non-target) sensory input compared with stored information.