Abnormal ERPs and Brain Dynamics Mediate Basic Self Disturbance in Schizophrenia: A Review of EEG and MEG Studies

Arthur Hamilton, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Interest in disordered sense of self in schizophrenia has recently re-emerged in the literature. It has been proposed that there is a basic self disturbance, underlying the diagnostic symptoms of schizophrenia, in which the person's sense of being a bounded individual continuous through time loses stability. This disturbance has been documented phenomenologically and at the level of cognitive tasks. However, the neural correlates of basic self disorder in schizophrenia are poorly understood. Methods: A search of PubMed was used to identify studies on self and schizophrenia that reported EEG or MEG data. Results: Thirty-three studies were identified, 32 using EEG and one using MEG. Their operationalizations of the self were divided into six paradigms: self-monitoring for errors, proprioception, self-other integration, self-referential processing, aberrant salience, and source monitoring. Participants with schizophrenia were less accurate on self-referential processing tasks and had slower response times across most studies. Event-related potential amplitudes differed across many early and late components, with reduced N100 suppression in source monitoring paradigms being the most replicated finding. Several studies found differences in one or more frequency band, but no coherent overall finding emerged in this area. Various other measures of brain dynamics also showed differences in single studies. Only some of the study designs were adequate to establish a causal relationship between the self and EEG or MEG measures. Conclusion: The broad range of changes suggests a global self disturbance at the neuronal level, possibly carried over from the resting state. Further studies that successfully isolate self-related effects are warranted to better understand the temporal-dynamic and spatial-topographic basis of self disorder and its relationship to basic self disturbance on the phenomenological level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number642469
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Apr 12 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • basic self
  • electroencephalography
  • event-related potentials
  • magnetoencepalography
  • schizophrenia
  • self disturbance
  • sense of self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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