Neurophysiological Correlates of Auditory Processing Deficits in Schizophrenia


Centre Hospitalier Le Vinatier, Research Team ΨR2 – Psychiatric disorders: from Resistance to Response, Lyon, France


Introduction: Schizophrenia is one of the most severe psychiatric disorders. Along with current pathophysiological hypotheses, a growing interest is emerging for low-level sensory function deficits. In the field of auditory processing, patients with schizophrenia display impaired abilities to discriminate length, intensity, pitch and stream of non-verbal sounds. This interest is predicated on the demonstration that these lower order deficits can lead to the higher-order cognitive disturbances and symptom dimensions found in schizophrenia (Javitt & Sweet, 2015). For example, pitch discrimination impairments contribute to impairment in the perceiving social intent as conveyed through speech intonation patterns or prosody.

Objective: to better explore the neurophysiological correlates of basic auditory dysfunction hypothesis in order to enrich this pathophysiological model of the disease.

Methods:  we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of tone matching impairment in schizophrenia (Dondé et al., 2016). We also carried out an exploratory study on a sample of patients to explore correlations between basic auditory processing, auditory source-monitoring and clinical dimensions. For that purpose, we assessed subjects with a battery of psychometric scales and auditory tests exploring pitch, length, intensity and source-monitoring discrimination abilities.

Results: We highlighted a large significant disturbance in tone-matching ability in patients as compared with controls in our meta-analysis. Correlation analyses were used to look for interlinks between auditory abilities and symptoms in patients included in our exploratory study.

Discussion: Basic auditory impairments offer new understanding of cognitive processes involved in schizophrenia and may ultimately result in the identification of relevant biomarkers. In this way, the research field of auditory processing shows promises in schizophrenia care, as it tends to fill gaps between neurobiological impairments evidences and translational applications.