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Computational Modeling of Electroencephalography and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Paradigms Indicates a Consistent Loss of Pyramidal Cell Synaptic Gain in Schizophrenia

Adams, R. A., Pinotsis, D. A. ORCID: 0000-0002-6865-8103, Tsirlis, K. , Unruh, L., Mahajan, A., Horas, A. M., Convertino, L., Summerfelt, A., Sampath, H., Du, X. M., Kochunov, P., Ji, J. L., Repovs, G., Murray, J. D., Friston, K. J., Hong, L. & Anticevic, A. (2022). Computational Modeling of Electroencephalography and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Paradigms Indicates a Consistent Loss of Pyramidal Cell Synaptic Gain in Schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry, 91(2), pp. 202-215. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.07.024


BACKGROUND: Diminished synaptic gain-the sensitivity of postsynaptic responses to neural inputs-may be a fundamental synaptic pathology in schizophrenia. Evidence for this is indirect, however. Furthermore, it is unclear whether pyramidal cells or interneurons (or both) are affected, or how these deficits relate to symptoms.

METHODS: People with schizophrenia diagnoses (PScz) (n = 108), their relatives (n = 57), and control subjects (n = 107) underwent 3 electroencephalography (EEG) paradigms-resting, mismatch negativity, and 40-Hz auditory steady-state response-and resting functional magnetic resonance imaging. Dynamic causal modeling was used to quantify synaptic connectivity in cortical microcircuits.

RESULTS: Classic group differences in EEG features between PScz and control subjects were replicated, including increased theta and other spectral changes (resting EEG), reduced mismatch negativity, and reduced 40-Hz power. Across all 4 paradigms, characteristic PScz data features were all best explained by models with greater self-inhibition (decreased synaptic gain) in pyramidal cells. Furthermore, disinhibition in auditory areas predicted abnormal auditory perception (and positive symptoms) in PScz in 3 paradigms.

CONCLUSIONS: First, characteristic EEG changes in PScz in 3 classic paradigms are all attributable to the same underlying parameter change: greater self-inhibition in pyramidal cells. Second, psychotic symptoms in PScz relate to disinhibition in neural circuits. These findings are more commensurate with the hypothesis that in PScz, a primary loss of synaptic gain on pyramidal cells is then compensated by interneuron downregulation (rather than the converse). They further suggest that psychotic symptoms relate to this secondary downregulation.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 Society of Biological Psychiatry. This is an open access article under theCC BY license (
Publisher Keywords: Auditory steady-state, Dynamic causal model, Mismatch negativity, Psychosis, Resting state, Schizophrenia
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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