Response monitoring abnormalities have been reported in chronic schizophrenia patients, but it is unknown whether they predate the onset of psychosis, are present in early stages of illness, or are late-developing abnormalities associated with illness progression. Response-synchronized event-related potentials (ERP) recorded during a picture-word matching task yielded error-related negativity (ERN), correct-response negativity (CRN), and error positivity (Pe) from 84 schizophrenia patients (SZ), 48 clinical high risk patients (CHR), and their age-matched healthy controls (HC; n = 110 and 88, respectively). A sub-sample of 35 early illness schizophrenia patients (ESZ) was compared to 93 age-matched HC and the CHR patients (after statistically removing the effects of normal aging). Relative to HC, 1) SZ, ESZ, and CHR had smaller ERNs, and 2) SZ and ESZ had larger CRNs and smaller Pes. Within the SZ, longer illness duration was associated with larger CRNs but was unrelated to ERN or Pe. CHR and ESZ did not differ on ERN or CRN, although Pe was smaller in ESZ than CHR. These results indicate that while ERN, CRN, and Pe abnormalities are present early in the illness, only the ERN abnormality is evident prior to psychosis onset, and only the CRN abnormality appears to worsen progressively over the illness course. Brain regions subserving response monitoring may be compromised early in the illness and possibly during its clinical prodrome.
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