Prefrontal functioning during context processing in schizophrenia and major depression: An event-related fMRI study

Avram J. Holmes, Angus MacDonald, Cameron S. Carter, Deanna M. Barch, V. Andrew Stenger, Jonathan D. Cohen

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114 Scopus citations


Patients with schizophrenia frequently demonstrate hypofrontality in tasks that require executive processing; however questions still remain as to whether prefrontal cortex dysfunctions are specific to schizophrenia, or a general feature of major psychopathology. Context processing is conceptualized as an executive function associated with attention and working memory processes. Impairment in the ability of patients with schizophrenia to represent and maintain context information has been previously reported in a number of studies. To examine the question of the specificity of a context processing deficit to schizophrenia, we used functional MRI and an expectancy AX continuous performance task designed to assess context processing in a group of healthy controls (n = 9), depressed patient controls (n = 10), and patients with schizophrenia (n = 7). The behavioral performance was consistent with a context processing deficit in patients with schizophrenia, but not those with depression. The imaging data replicate previous results in showing abnormal activity in the right middle frontal gyrus (BA9) in schizophrenia patients related to context processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-206
Number of pages8
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jul 15 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Howard Aizenstein, MD, Greg Siegle, PhD, Kristi Clark, BS, Grace Nah, BA, and Greg Nickliss, BA, and the UPMC Magnetic Resonance Research Center for their invaluable assistance in the conduct of this study. Results from this study were presented at the 9th Annual International Congress of Schizophrenia Research, Colorado Springs, CO. This work was supported by NIMH Grants #MH47073 and MH59883 and Dr. MacDonald was supported by NIMH Grant #T32 MH18269.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Context processing
  • Functional MRI
  • Hypofrontality
  • Major depression
  • Prefrontal Cortex
  • Schizophrenia


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