Sensory gating deficits in psychiatric impatients: Relation to catecholamine metabolites in different diagnostic groups

Neil J. Baker, Mary Staunton, Lawrence E. Adler, Greg A. Gerhardt, Carla Drebing, Merilyne Waldo, Herbert Nagamoto, Robert Freedman

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78 Scopus citations


Acutely ill psychiatric inpatients were examined for a deficit in sensory gating, measured as failure to suppress the P50 wave of the auditory-evoked response to the second of paired stimuli. Previously, we had found that in mania, this sensory gating deficit is correlated with increased plasma-free levels of the noradrenergic metabolite 3-methoxy, 4-hydroxyphenylglycol (pMHPG), whereas in schizophrenia, there is no correlation with catecholamine metabolism. To assess the generalizability of these findings, we examined inpatients with a broader range of diagnoses, including those with multiple DSM III-R Axis I, II, and III diagnoses. The patients were grouped into three diagnostic spectra for analysis: schizophrenic, manic, and depressive. In the schizophrenic patients, there was no relationship between pMHPG or other catecholamine metabolites and the sensory gating deficit. In manic patients, however, a positive correlation between pMHPG level and the sensory gating deficit was again observed. This relationship did not extend to the depressive patients, who uniquely showed sensory gating deficits that correlated negatively with the severity of their illness. The data suggest that sensory gating deficits are common to these three diagnostic spectra, but the deficits in each group have different relationships to catecholamine metabolism and symptom severity that may reflect differences in the underlying neuronal pathophysiology of these illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-528
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 1990

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
From the Departments of Psychiatry (N.J.B., M.S., L.E.A., G.A.G., C.D., M.W., H.N., R.F.) and Pharmacology (R.F., G.A.G.), Denver Veterans Administration Medical Center (L. E.A., H.N., R.F.) and University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO. Address reprint requests to: Dr. Nell J. Baker, Department of Psychiatry C-268, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO 80262. Received October 18, 1988; revised June 19, 1989. This work was supported by USPHS grants MH-44212, MH 38321, RR-00051, and the Veterans Administration Medical Research Service.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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