Schizophrenia impairs many cognitive functions, and abnormalities in language processing have been proposed as one of the bases for this disorder. Previously, it was reported that different magnetoencephalography (MEG) patterns of the evoked oscillatory activity (eOA) of 20-45 Hz to speech and nonspeech sounds were evidence of a fast mechanism for the representation and identification of speech sounds in humans. The current study tested the hypothesis that the schizophrenics would show abnormal neural oscillatory activity, as measured by eOA, to speech and nonspeech sounds. Twenty patients and 23 control subjects participated in this study. MEG responses to speech and nonspeech sounds were recorded and eOA power and phase locking at 20-45Hz were analyzed. Patients showed significantly delayed peak latencies of the eOA power and phase locking to speech sounds in the left hemisphere and to nonspeech sounds in the right hemisphere. Patients also showed a significantly reduced eOA power to speech sounds in the left hemisphere in 0 -50 ms and a significantly larger eOA power to speech sounds in the left hemisphere in 100-150 ms. In addition, the analyses of the lateralization index revealed the pattern of hemispheric lateralization to be the opposite in patients. These results indicated that patients showed different characteristics of eOA compared with normal controls, probably related to deficits in a fast mechanism for identifying speech sounds. Moreover, the present study suggests that schizophrenia might be characterized by an opposite pattern of hemispheric lateralization in auditory evoked oscillations.
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