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21. Are you looking at me? Neural oscillation abnormalities in schizophrenia during eye gaze discrimination
Eye gaze discrimination deficits in schizophrenia (SZ) contribute to chronic functional impairment. Previous work in populations with similar gaze deficits (e.g., autism) has shown that this deficit may originate from abnormal neural oscillation. However, there have been no studies of neural oscillation during gaze discrimination in SZ. The current study tried to address this gap by examining neural oscillation during a gaze discrimination task comprised of face stimuli that varied in gaze direction (direct or averted), emotion (neutral or fearful), and head orientation (forward or deviated). A total of 28 SZ and 34 demographically matched healthy controls (HC) completed the task. Time-frequency analysis of electroencephalography (EEG) using event-related spectral perturbation (ERSP) showed reduced beta-band oscillation (12-30 Hz) in SZ compared with HC for both direct and averted eye gaze. Further analyses will examine interaction between facial stimuli emotion (neutral or fearful), gaze direction, and head orientation, anchoring to our previous findings of abnormal N170 in SZ. These preliminary findings suggest that beta-band oscillation abnormalities may contribute to altered gaze perception in SZ and should be further investigated as a potential treatment target to improve social functioning in SZ.