Regional cerebral blood flow changes and performance deficit during a sustained attention task in schizophrenia: 15O-water positron emission tomography

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Attention deficit has been reported in both schizophrenia patients and patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of this study was to elucidate the deficits in sustained attention and associated neural network dysfunctions in schizophrenia patients and MDD patients, and to investigate the difference between the two patient groups.


Twelve schizophrenia patients, 12 patients with non-psychotic MDD, and 12 healthy control subjects participated in this study. A sustained attention to response task (SART) was used to measure attention capacity. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) during attention tasks was measured using H215O positron emission tomography. Statistical parametric mapping and analysis of covariance were performed to compare the behavioral performance and CBF changes during SART among three groups.


Behavioral performances were not significantly different among the three groups except for an increased commission error rate in the schizophrenia group. Regional CBF during SART was significantly reduced in the left inferior frontal gyrus, the left cuneus, and the right superior parietal lobule and increased in the right superior frontal gyrus and the right cuneus in the schizophrenia group compared to the healthy control group. In the MDD group, neither significant regional CBF difference nor behavioral deficit was found compared to the healthy control group.


Behavioral performance deficit and perfusion changes in the prefrontal and parietal cortices during SART were observed only in the schizophrenia group. Prefrontal and parietal network dysfunction for sustained attention may be involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

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