Hyperdeactivation of the Default Mode Network in People With Schizophrenia When Focusing Attention in Space

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When studying selective attention in people with schizophrenia (PSZ), a counterintuitive but replicated finding has been that PSZ display larger performance benefits than healthy control subjects (HCS) by cues that predicts the location of a target stimulus relative to non-predictive cues. Possible explanations are that PSZ hyperfocus attention in response to predictive cues, or that an inability to maintain a broad attentional window impairs performance when the cue is non-predictive. Over-recruitment of regions involved in top-down focusing of spatial attention in response to predictive cues would support the former possibility, and an inappropriate recruitment of these regions in response to non-predictive cues the latter. We probed regions of the dorsal attention network while PSZ (N = 20) and HCS (N = 20) performed a visuospatial attention task. A central cue either predicted at which of 4 peripheral locations a target signal would appear, or it gave no information about the target location. As observed previously, PSZ displayed a larger reaction time difference between predictive and non-predictive cue trials than HCS. Activity in frontoparietal and occipital regions was greater for predictive than non-predictive cues. This effect was almost identical between PSZ and HCS. There was no sign of over-recruitment when the cue was predictive, or of inappropriate recruitment when the cue was non-predictive. However, PSZ differed from HCS in their cue-dependent deactivation of the default mode network. Unexpectedly, PSZ displayed significantly greater deactivation than HCS in predictive cue trials, which may reflect a tendency to expend more processing resources when focusing attention in space.

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