Stability of prepulse inhibition and habituation of the startle reflex in schizophrenia: a 6-year follow-up study of initially antipsychotic-naive, first-episode schizophrenia patients
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Deficits in information processing appear to be core features in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. Prepulse inhibition (PPI) and habituation of the startle reflex are operational measures of early information processing. Impaired PPI in schizophrenia has been replicated in many studies and is regarded as an endophenotype for schizophrenia. However, reports on the stability of PPI over a longer period of time are lacking, both for patients with schizophrenia and for healthy subjects. The current study examined 25 initially drug-naive, first-episode schizophrenia patients and 23 healthy matched controls. Three PPI measures [stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) 30, 60, 120 ms] and habituation were assessed at baseline, and again after 6 yr. Sixteen patients and 17 healthy controls completed the study, and 13 patients and 17 healthy controls were included in the final analysis. The schizophrenia patients had PPI deficits compared to controls at baseline. After 6 yr, no significant group differences were found. PPI had increased significantly in the patients and had decreased significantly in controls. In addition, patients showed significantly less habituation than controls while habituation did not change in patients or controls. The present results show that PPI in drug-naive, first-episode schizophrenia patients can improve significantly over time. As PPI increased in patients over the same period that it decreased in controls, it is likely that the increase was caused by disease-related factors such as disease process, clinical state, or medication.