Quantitative electroencephalography as a biomarker for proneness toward developing psychosis

The fully dimensional approach to the relationship between schizotypal personality traits and schizophrenia describes schizotypy as a continuum throughout the general population ranging from low schizotypy (LoS) and psychological health to high schizotypy (HiS) and psychosis-proneness. However, no biological markers have yet been discovered that reliably quantify an individual's degree of schizotypy and/or psychosis. This study aimed to evaluate quantitative electroencephalographic (qEEG) measures of power spectra as potential biomarkers of the proneness towards the development of psychosis in schizotypal individuals. The resting-state oscillatory brain dynamics under eyes-closed condition from 16 LoS and 16 HiS individuals were analysed for qEEG measures of background rhythm frequency, relative power in δ, θ, low-α, high-α, low-β, high-β and low-γ frequency bands, and the high-temporal cross-correlation of power spectra between low- and high-frequency bands observed by averaging signals from whole-head EEG electrodes. HiS individuals at rest locked the thalamocortical loop in the low-α band at a lower-frequency oscillation and displayed an abnormally high level of neural synchronisation. In addition, the high-α band was found to be positively correlated with both the high-β and low-γ bands unlike LoS individuals, indicating widespread thalamocortical resonance in HiS individuals. The increase of regional alpha oscillations in HiS individuals suggests abnormal high-level attention, whereas the pattern of correlation between frequency bands resembles the thalamocortical dysrhythmia phenomenon which underlies the symptomatology of a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia. These qEEG biomarkers may aid clinicians in identifying HiS individuals with a high-risk of developing psychosis.