Daniel Mathalon, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, led a study evaluating the amount of mismatch negativity (MMN)—an auditory signaling process that travels to the frontal lobe regions in response to sound—in 101 individuals with a high clinical risk for psychosis, or schizophrenia or no history of mental illness.
The results revealed that MMN was significantly reduced in subjects with schizophrenia and who were at high clinical risk for psychosis, compared with control. There was no difference in MMN among schizophrenia patients and those with elevated risk for psychotic disorder. In addition, MMN was significantly reduced in those high-risk patients who later developed fulminant psychosis compared with those who remained in the high-risk category.
"Our study results show that mismatch negativity deficits precede the onset of psychosis in clinical high risk individuals, and further shows that the larger the deficit, the more imminent the risk for conversion to a psychotic disorder," commented Mathalon. “This remarkable convergence of findings points to the mismatch negativity as a promising electroencephalography-based biomarker of psychosis risk that, with further development, could enhance our ability to identify which individuals are at greatest risk for psychosis and in greatest need of early treatment, particularly if the treatment is associated with potential adverse effects (such as antipsychotic medication)."
To read about other potential biomarkers for detecting the onset of psychosis, read Psychiatric News article, “Blood Biomarkers Could Aid Prediction of Psychosis Risk.”