Recent advances in functional neuroimaging allow comparisons between individuals with schizophrenia and control groups. Previous studies of schizophrenia have used blocked task paradigms and, more recently, "rapid event-related" designs in which stimuli of different types are presented close together in an intermixed fashion. The validity of between-group comparisons in both of these types of paradigms depends on excluding the possibility that observed functional response differences are attributable to altered hemodynamic responses in individuals with schizophrenia. The goal of the current study was to begin a systematic examination of the hemodynamic response in schizophrenia. We administered a flashing checkerboard paradigm with a motor response to 17 individuals with schizophrenia and 24 healthy controls. Both groups showed robust activation of visual, motor, somatosensory, and supplementary motor regions. For the most part, the individuals with schizophrenia demonstrated intact peak amplitude, variance, latency, and linear summation properties in regions activated by this task. We did find some evidence for increased variability in the amplitude and latency of the hemodynamic responses in the visual and somatosensory cortices, although the magnitudes of these group differences were relatively small. These results begin to validate the interpretation of functional neuroimaging studies of schizophrenia in terms of neuronal as opposed to vascular mechanisms.
- Brain function
- Hemodynamic response