Oades, R. D., Müller, B., Schall, U., Bender, S., Wolstein, J. (2000). Automatic vs. controlled attention in schizophrenia: Conditioned blocking and sensory gating. Behavioural Pharmacology, 11, 346. (Abstract of talk).

Patients with schizophrenia are impaired on tasks that require conscious control of information processing: more controversial is their performance where learned automatic processing suffices.

We studied 1) the use of these stimulus-processing strategies in conditioned blocking (CB)[CB reflects the delay in learning that a stimulus added to a conditioned stimulus may have the same consequences: here measured with the mouse-in-house task], and 2) the effect of auditory sensory gating by a prepulse on event-related potential (ERP) signs reflecting automatic/controlled processing in a Go/no-go task.

1) We replicated in 100 DSMIV-patients our report that impaired CB was more associated with nonparanoid diagnoses of schizophrenia. Active thought disorder was associated with persistent CB, while ideas-of-reference related to reduced CB. CB was associated with neuropsychological signs of fronto-cingulate (Stroop) and right-parietal (Mooney faces) performance (see poster below and articles above).
Figure 12) Patients showed impaired P50 and N1 ERPs in the prepulse/no-prepulse condition and of the 'P3' in the go/no-go comparison (prepulse-induced nontarget positivity, PINTP). P50 and N1 stages improved over 3 months of treatment, correlating with improved negative (figure 1) and positive symptoms for state related improvements over the right hemisphere Figure 2(figure 2), respectively. PINTP improvements related to a) less 'disorganisation', b) better signal-detection and Tower-of-London performance, and c) increased serotonin and decreased dopamine activity in plasma samples (see poster below).

Automatic processing can be impaired, especially where certain negative symptoms and ideas-of-reference are shown, but is sensitive to treatment. Appropriate controlled processing requires improved balances in cingulate-parietal and dopamine-serotonergic functions. Support: DFG OA1/4-1,4-2 & Scha628/4-1