Regional brain metabolism was measured in patients with schizophrenia during the performance of auditory discrimination to evaluate the effect of neuroleptic medication on the middle prefrontal cortex, an area that appears to be an important biological determinant of the sustained attention required of subjects in this task. While unmedicated patients with schizophrenia have lower than "normal" metabolic rates in this cortical area that area unrelated to performance, patients receiving neuroleptics appear to have this metabolic deficit attenuated with higher metabolism in this area associated with greater accuracy of performance. This change occurs in the context of differential neuroleptic effects on the cortical regions of the frontal cortex, increased metabolism in the basal ganglia, thalamus and temporal lobes, and no apparent effect in the pariental and occipital cortices. The findings suggest that only part of the abnormality in the prefrontal cortex determination of sustained attention in schizophrenia is sensitive to neuroleptic treatment.
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