Biol Psychiatry, 42(1):13-23.
The N400, an event-related brain potential (ERP) sensitive to semantic congruity, has been reported to have increased latency and/or reduced amplitude in young adults with schizophrenia. Little is known, however, regarding the N400 in older schizophrenia patients, especially those with late onset. We studied 18 middle-aged and elderly patients with schizophrenia and related psychoses (nine with early-onset psychosis (EOP) and nine with late-onset psychosis (LOP)), and nine normal comparison (NC) subjects. Subjects read words which were semantically incongruent (50%) or congruent (50%) with a preceding spoken phrase which defined either an antonymic or categorical relationship. The LOP group had a significantly later peak latency of the N400 congruity effect compared to the NC group. Seven of 18 psychosis patients, but none (0/9) of the normal subjects, had an abnormal latency or amplitude (p = 0.04), measured at T6 (right temporal). Smaller amplitudes were associated with more severe negative symptoms (rp = 0.58; p = 0.01). N400 abnormalities in older schizophrenia patients likely reflect abnormal processing of semantic information.