The study of the mechanisms involved in cognition is of paramount importance for the understanding of the neurobiological substrates in psychiatric disorders. Hence, this research is aimed at exploring the brain network dynamics during a cognitive task. Specifically, we analyze the predictive capability of the pre-stimulus theta activity to ascertain the functional brain dynamics during cognition in both healthy and schizophrenia subjects. Firstly, EEG recordings were acquired during a three-tone oddball task from fifty-one healthy subjects and thirty-five schizophrenia patients. Secondly, phase-based coupling measures were used to generate the time-varying functional network for each subject. Finally, pre-stimulus network connections were iteratively modified according to different models of network reorganization. This adjustment was applied by minimizing the prediction error through recurrent iterations, following the predictive coding approach. Both controls and schizophrenia patients follow a reinforcement of the secondary neural pathways (i.e., pathways between cortical brain regions weakly connected during pre-stimulus) for most of the subjects, though the ratio of controls that exhibited this behavior was statistically significant higher than for patients. These findings suggest that schizophrenia is associated with an impaired ability to modify brain network configuration during cognition. Furthermore, we provide direct evidence that the changes in phase-based brain network parameters from pre-stimulus to cognitive response in the theta band are closely related to the performance in important cognitive domains. Our findings not only contribute to the understanding of healthy brain dynamics, but also shed light on the altered predictive neuronal substrates in schizophrenia.
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