Background: Poor suppression of P50 event-related potential (ERP) amplitudes to paired-click stimuli may indicate genetic liability for schizophrenia and weak "sensory gating." Evidence suggests, however, that P50 amplitude is selectively impaired in nonparanoid, but not paranoid, schizophrenia subtypes. Furthermore, paired-click suppression can appear deficient in schizophrenia due to smaller evoked responses to the first stimulus (S1), rather than larger, less effectively "gated" responses to the second (S2). Finally, the P50 ERP is comprised of activity from at least two frequency components that may be distinctly impaired: the gamma band, associated with sensory registration, and the low frequency response, associated with attention/encoding processes. P50 and related frequency subcomponents were examined as a function of illness subtype to further integrate these concepts. Method: The standard paired-click paradigm was administered to 38 schizophrenia (27 paranoid, 11 nonparanoid) and 38 age-matched healthy control participants. P50 amplitudes and spectral power of gamma band (GBR; 20-50 Hz) and low frequency (LFR; 1-20 Hz) responses were analyzed. Results: P50 analyses revealed smaller S1 amplitude and normal S2 in schizophrenia participants collectively, but no differentiation of schizophrenia subtypes. Spectral analyses revealed smaller magnitude S1 and normal S2 responses in schizophrenia across both the GBR and LFR. The LFR, but not GBR, was found to distinguish nonparanoid from control groups, while paranoid participants evidenced no impairment in either frequency domain. LFR amplitude values correlated with clinical ratings of cognitive symptomatology. Conclusions: ERP deficits in the dual-click paradigm were specific to S1 amplitudes and most prominent in the low frequency response. These results replicate previous findings and extend their relevance to schizophrenia subtype distinctions. Implications for the recurrent inhibition model of sensory gating are discussed. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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