Characterizing prefrontal cortical activity during inhibition task in methamphetamine-associated psychosis versus schizophrenia: a multi-channel near-infrared spectroscopy study

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Methamphetamine abuse and dependence, frequently accompanied by schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms [methamphetamine-associated psychosis (MAP)], is a serious public health problem worldwide. Few studies, however, have characterized brain dysfunction associated with MAP, nor investigated similarities and differences in brain dysfunction between MAP and schizophrenia. We compared prefrontal cortical activity associated with stop-signal inhibitory task in 21 patients with MAP, 14 patients with schizophrenia and 21 age- and gender-matched healthy controls using a 52-channel near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) system. Both the MAP and the schizophrenia groups showed significantly reduced activation in the bilateral ventrolateral prefrontal cortex compared with controls; however, only the MAP group showed reduced activation in the frontopolar prefrontal cortex. The MAP group demonstrated significant positive correlations between task performance and hemodynamic responses in the bilateral ventrolateral, polar and left dorsolateral regions of the prefrontal cortex. The MAP and schizophrenia groups demonstrated a significant difference in the relationship of impulsivity to hemodynamic changes in the bilateral premotor cortex. These findings characterize similarities and differences in prefrontal cortical dysfunction between psychosis associated with methamphetamine and schizophrenia. The reduced hemodynamic changes in the bilateral ventrolateral prefrontal cortex suggest a common underlying pathophysiology of MAP and schizophrenia, whereas those in the frontopolar prefrontal cortex point to an impaired state that is either inherent or caused specifically by methamphetamine use.

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