Background. The auditory steady state response (ASSR) is generated in bilateral auditory cortex and is the most used electroencephalographic (EEG) or magnetoencephalographic measure of gamma band abnormalities in schizophrenia. While the finding of reduced 40-Hz ASSR power and phase consistency in schizophrenia have been replicated many times, the 40-Hz ASSR phase locking angle (PLA), which assesses oscillation latency or phase delay, has rarely been examined. Furthermore, whether 40-Hz ASSR phase delay in schizophrenia is lateralized or common to left and right auditory cortical generators is unknown. Methods. Previously analyzed EEG data recorded from 24 schizophrenia patients and 24 healthy controls presented with 20-, 30-, and 40-Hz click trains to elicit ASSRs were re-analyzed to assess PLA in source space. Dipole moments in the right and left hemisphere were used to assess both frequency and hemisphere specificity of ASSR phase delay in schizophrenia. Results. Schizophrenia patients exhibited significantly reduced (ie, phase delayed) 40-Hz PLA in the left, but not the right, hemisphere, but their 20- and 30-Hz PLA values were normal. This left-lateralized 40-Hz phase delay was unrelated to symptoms or to previously reported left-lateralized PLF reductions in the schizophrenia patients. Conclusions. Consistent with sensor-based studies, the 40-Hz ASSR source-localized to left, but not right, auditory cortex was phase delayed in schizophrenia. Consistent with prior studies showing left temporal lobe volume deficits in schizophrenia, our findings suggest sluggish entrainment to 40-Hz auditory stimulation specific to left auditory cortex that are distinct from well-established deficits in gamma ASSR power and phase synchrony.
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