It's in the Timing: Reduced Temporal Precision in Neural Activity of Schizophrenia

Annemarie Wolff, Javier Gomez-Pilar, Jianfeng Zhang, Joelle Choueiry, Sara de la Salle, Verner Knott, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Studies of perception and cognition in schizophrenia (SCZ) show neuronal background noise (ongoing activity) to intermittently overwhelm the processing of external stimuli. This increased noise, relative to the activity evoked by the stimulus, results in temporal imprecision and higher variability of behavioral responses. What, however, are the neural correlates of temporal imprecision in SCZ behavior? We first report a decrease in electroencephalography signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in two SCZ datasets and tasks in the broadband (1-80 Hz), theta (4-8 Hz), and alpha (8-13 Hz) bands. SCZ participants also show lower inter-trial phase coherence (ITPC)-consistency over trials in the phase of the signal-in theta. From these ITPC results, we varied phase offsets in a computational simulation, which illustrated phase-based temporal desynchronization. This modeling also provided a necessary link to our results and showed decreased neural synchrony in SCZ in both datasets and tasks when compared with healthy controls. Finally, we showed that reduced SNR and ITPC are related and showed a relationship to temporal precision on the behavioral level, namely reaction times. In conclusion, we demonstrate how temporal imprecision in SCZ neural activity-reduced relative signal strength and phase coherence-mediates temporal imprecision on the behavioral level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3441-3456
Number of pages16
JournalCerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 3 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • electroencephalography
  • inter-trial phase coherence
  • schizophrenia
  • signal-to-noise ratio
  • synchrony
  • temporal precision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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