Prefrontal cortex glucose metabolism and startle eyeblink modification abnormalities in unmedicated schizophrenia patients


Attentional modulation of the startle reflex was studied in 16 unmedicated schizophrenia patients and 15 control individuals during the 18F-2-deoxyglucose uptake period for positron emission tomography. In a task involving attended, ignored, and novel tones that served as prepulses, control individuals showed greater prepulse inhibition (PPI) at 120 ms and greater prepulse facilitation at 4,500 ms during attended than during ignored prepulses; the amount of PPI and facilitation during novel prepulses was intermediate. In contrast, patients failed to show differential PPI at 120 ms and tended to show greater facilitation at 4,500 ms during novel prepulses. For control individuals, greater PPI was associated with higher relative metabolic activity rates in prefrontal (Brodmann Areas 8, 9, and 10 bilaterally) and lower in visual cortex. Patients showed this relationship only for Area 10 on the left. Patients also had low metabolism in superior, middle, and inferior prefrontal cortex. Consistent with animal models, our results demonstrate the importance of the functional integrity of prefrontal cortex to PPI modulation.