Multisensory stimuli elicit altered oscillatory brain responses at gamma frequencies in patients with schizophrenia.
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Deficits in auditory and visual unisensory responses are well documented in patients with schizophrenia; however, potential abnormalities elicited from multisensory audio-visual stimuli are less understood. Further, schizophrenia patients have shown abnormal patterns in task-related and task-independent oscillatory brain activity, particularly in the gamma frequency band. We examined oscillatory responses to basic unisensory and multisensory stimuli in schizophrenia patients (N = 46) and healthy controls (N = 57) using magnetoencephalography (MEG). Time-frequency decomposition was performed to determine regions of significant changes in gamma band power by group in response to unisensory and multisensory stimuli relative to baseline levels. Results showed significant behavioral differences between groups in response to unisensory and multisensory stimuli. In addition, time-frequency analysis revealed significant decreases and increases in gamma-band power in schizophrenia patients relative to healthy controls, which emerged both early and late over both sensory and frontal regions in response to unisensory and multisensory stimuli. Unisensory gamma-band power predicted multisensory gamma-band power differently by group. Furthermore, gamma-band power in these regions predicted performance in select measures of the Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) test battery differently by group. These results reveal a unique pattern of task-related gamma-band power in schizophrenia patients relative to controls that may indicate reduced inhibition in combination with impaired oscillatory mechanisms in patients with schizophrenia.