Working memory in schizophrenia: an EEG study using power spectrum and coherence analysis to estimate cortical activation and network behavior

E. Pachou, M. Vourkas, P. Simos, D.J.A. Smit, C.J. Stam, V. Tsirka, S. Micheloyannis

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This study examined regional cortical activations and cortico-cortical connectivity in a group of 20 high-functioning patients with schizophrenia and 20 healthy controls matched for age and sex during a 0- and a 2-back working memory (WM) task. An earlier study comparing schizophrenia patients with education level-matched healthy controls revealed less "optimally" organized network during the 2-back task, whereas a second study with healthy volunteers had suggested that the degree of cortical organization may be inversely proportional to educational level (less optimal functional connectivity in better educated individuals interpreted as the result of higher efficiency). In the present study, both groups succeeded in the 2-back WM task although healthy individuals had generally attained a higher level of education. First absolute power spectrum of the different frequency bands corresponding to the electrodes of each lobe was calculated. Then the mean values of coherence were calculated as an index of the average synchronization to construct graphs in order to characterize local and large scale topological patterns of cortico-cortical connectivity. The power spectra analyses showed signs of hypofrontality in schizophrenics with an asymmetry. Additionally, differences between the groups with greater changes during WM in healthy individuals were visible in all lobes more on the left side. The graph parameter results indicated decreased small-world architecture i.e. less optimal cortico-cortical functional organization in patients as compared to controls. These findings are consistent with the notion of aberrant neural organization in schizophrenics which is nevertheless sufficient in supporting adequate task performance. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-137
JournalBrain Topography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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