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Identification of markers of abnormal brain function in children at-risk of schizophrenia may inform early intervention and prevention programs. Individuals with schizophrenia are characterised by attenuation of MMN amplitude, which indexes automatic auditory sensory processing. The current aim was to examine whether children who may be at increased risk of schizophrenia due to their presenting multiple putative antecedents of schizophrenia (ASz) are similarly characterised by MMN amplitude reductions, relative to typically developing (TD) children. EEG was recorded from 22 ASz and 24 TD children aged 9 to 12 years (matched on age, sex, and IQ) during a passive auditory oddball task (15% duration deviant). ASz children were those presenting: (1) speech and/or motor development lags/problems; (2) social, emotional, or behavioural problems in the clinical range; and (3) psychotic-like experiences. TD children presented no antecedents, and had no family history of a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. MMN amplitude, but not latency, was significantly greater at frontal sites in the ASz group than in the TD group. Although the MMN exhibited by the children at risk of schizophrenia was unlike that of their typically developing peers, it also differed from the reduced MMN amplitude observed in adults with schizophrenia. This may reflect developmental and disease effects in a pre-prodromal phase of psychosis onset. Longitudinal follow-up is necessary to establish the developmental trajectory of MMN in at-risk children.

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Journal Article

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