Color Stroop and negative priming in schizophrenia: an fMRI study

Ungar L, Nestor PG, Niznikiewicz MA, Wible CG, Kubicki M

Psychiatry Res 2010 Jan;181(1):24-9

PMID: 19963356


Disturbances in selective attention represent a core characteristic of schizophrenia, whose neural underpinnings have yet to be fully elucidated. Consequently, we recorded brain activation using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while 15 patients with schizophrenia and 15 age-matched controls performed a well-established measure of selective attention-the color Stroop negative priming task. We focused on two aspects of performance: overriding pre-potent responses (Stroop effect) and inhibition of prior negatively primed trials (negative priming effect). Behaviorally, controls demonstrated both significant Stroop and negative priming effects, while schizophrenic subjects only showed the Stroop effect. For the Stroop effect, fMRI indicated significantly greater activation in frontal regions-medial frontal gyrus/anterior cingulate gyrus and middle frontal gyrus for controls-but greater activation in medial parietal regions (posterior cingulate gyrus/precuneus) for patients. Negative priming elicited significant activation in right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for both groups, but also in left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for patients. These different patterns of fMRI activation may reflect faulty interaction in schizophrenia within networks of brain regions that are vital to selective attention.