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Mental Health - Neuroscience - Science Policy

Adjusting Brain Dynamics in Schizophrenia by Means of Perceptual and Cognitive Training
Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Author: Tzvetan Popov et al.

by Tzvetan Popov, Brigitte Rockstroh, Nathan Weisz, Thomas Elbert, Gregory A. Miller


In a previous report we showed that cognitive training fostering auditory-verbal discrimination and working memory normalized magnetoencephalographic (MEG) M50 gating ratio in schizophrenia patients. The present analysis addressed whether training effects on M50 ratio and task performance are mediated by changes in brain oscillatory activity. Such evidence should improve understanding of the role of oscillatory activity in phenomena such as M50 ratio, the role of dysfunctional oscillatory activity in processing abnormalities in schizophrenia, and mechanisms of action of cognitive training.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Time-locked and non-time-locked oscillatory activity was measured together with M50 ratio in a paired-click design before and after a 4-week training of 36 patients randomly assigned to specific cognitive exercises (CE) or standard (comparison) cognitive training (CP). Patient data were compared to those of 15 healthy controls who participated in two MEG measurements 4 weeks apart without training. Training led to more time-locked gamma-band response and more non-time-locked alpha-band desynchronization, moreso after CE than after CP. Only after CE, increased alpha desynchronization was associated with normalized M50 ratio and with improved verbal memory performance. Thus, both types of cognitive training normalized gamma activity, associated with improved stimulus encoding. More targeted training of auditory-verbal discrimination and memory additionally normalized alpha desynchronization, associated with improved elaborative processing. The latter presumably contributes to improved auditory gating and cognitive function.


Results suggest that dysfunctional interplay of ocillatory activity that may contribute to auditory processing disruption in schizophrenia can be modified by targeted training.