Attentional capture by physically salient stimuli in the gamma frequency is associated with schizophrenia symptoms

<p><b>Objectives:</b> Aberrant salience mainly is attributed to excessive dopaminergic processing in the ventral striatum. Increased gamma power during sensory processing of physical salience has been shown to be associated with positive trait schizotypy. In the present study, this is assessed in patients with schizophrenia.</p> <p><b>Methods:</b> The early evoked visual gamma-band response (GBR) at 40 Hz was assessed for a schizophrenia patient group (<i>N</i> = 22) and a matched healthy control group (<i>N</i> = 22) applying EEG time-frequency analysis. The GBR was assessed for two conditions within a visual detection paradigm: a target with or without a physically salient distracter and evaluated in relation to the PANSS.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> A 2 × 2 ANOVA revealed a significant main effect of condition and a trend interaction of group and condition for the GBR, with highest power for schizophrenia patients in the physically salient distracter condition. Moreover, evoked GBR power in this condition was correlated with positive (<i>r</i> = 0.664; <i>P</i> = 0.001**) and disorganised (<i>r</i> = 0.618; <i>P</i> = 0.002**) schizophrenia symptoms.</p> <p><b>Conclusions:</b> Evoked GBR power during processing of physical salience in schizophrenia was associated with positive symptoms. We suggest that abnormal processing of physically salient stimuli might be involved in the pathophysiological genesis of positive symptoms.</p>