Visual processing deficits in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome
AUTHORS: Biria M, Tomescu MI, Custo A, Cantonas LM, Song KW, Schneider M, Murray MM, Eliez S, Michel CM, Rihs TA
NeuroImage: Clinical, 17: 976-986, December 2017
Carriers of the rare 22q11.2 microdeletion present with a high percentage of positive and negative symptoms and a high genetic risk for schizophrenia. Visual processing impairments have been characterized in schizophrenia, but less so in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (DS). Here, we focus on visual processing using high-density EEG and source imaging in 22q11.2DS participants (N = 25) and healthy controls (N = 26) with an illusory contour discrimination task. Significant differences between groups emerged at early and late stages of visual processing. In 22q11.2DS, we first observed reduced amplitudes over occipital channels and reduced source activations within dorsal and ventral visual stream areas during the P1 (100-125 ms) and within ventral visual cortex during the N1 (150-170 ms) visual evoked components. During a later window implicated in visual completion (240-285 ms), we observed an increase in global amplitudes in 22q11.2DS. The increased surface amplitudes for illusory contours at this window were inversely correlated with positive subscales of prodromal symptoms in 22q11.2DS. The reduced activity of ventral and dorsal visual areas during early stages points to an impairment in visual processing seen both in schizophrenia and 22q11.2DS. During intervals related to perceptual closure, the inverse correlation of high amplitudes with positive symptoms suggests that participants with 22q11.2DS who show an increased brain response to illusory contours during the relevant window for contour processing have less psychotic symptoms and might thus be at a reduced prodromal risk for schizophrenia.