Reduced P300 amplitude during retrieval on a spatial working memory task in a community sample of adolescents who report psychotic symptoms.
BACKGROUND: Deficits in working memory are widely reported in schizophrenia and are considered a trait marker for the disorder. Event-related potentials (ERPs) and imaging data suggest that these differences in working memory performance may be due to aberrant functioning in the prefrontal and parietal cortices. Research suggests that many of the same risk factors for schizophrenia are shared with individuals from the general population who report psychotic symptoms. METHODS: Forty-two participants (age range 11--13 years) were divided into those who reported psychotic symptoms (N = 17) and those who reported no psychotic symptoms, i.e. the control group (N = 25). Behavioural differences in accuracy and reaction time were explored between the groups as well as electrophysiological correlates of working memory using a Spatial Working Memory Task, which was a variant of the Sternberg paradigm. Specifically, differences in the P300 component were explored across load level (low load and high load), location (positive probe i.e. in the same location as shown in the study stimulus and negative probe i.e. in a different location to the study stimulus) and between groups for the overall P300 timeframe. The effect of load was also explored at early and late timeframes of the P300 component (250-430 ms and 430-750 ms respectively). RESULTS: No between-group differences in the behavioural data were observed. Reduced amplitude of the P300 component was observed in the psychotic symptoms group relative to the control group at posterior electrode sites. Amplitude of the P300 component was reduced at high load for the late P300 timeframe at electrode sites Pz and POz. CONCLUSIONS: These results identify neural correlates of neurocognitive dysfunction associated with population level psychotic symptoms and provide insights into ERP abnormalities associated with the extended psychosis phenotype.