Contingent negative variation blunting and psychomotor dysfunction in schizophrenia: A systematic review

K. Juston Osborne*, Brian Kraus, Phoebe H. Lam, Teresa Vargas, Vijay A. Mittal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The contingent negative variation (CNV) is an event-related potential that provides a neural index of psychomotor processes (eg, attention and motor planning) well known to be dysfunctional in schizophrenia. Although evidence suggests that CNV amplitude is blunted in patients with schizophrenia (SZ) compared to healthy controls (HCs), there is currently no meta-analytic evidence for the size of the effect. Further, it is unknown how CNV blunting compares to closely related measures of psychomotor dysfunction, such as reaction time slowing. We used random-effects models to calculate the pooled effect size (ES) across 30 studies investigating CNV amplitude differences between patients and HCs (NSZ = 685, NHC = 714). Effect sizes for reaction time slowing across the studies were also quantified. Potential moderators, including sample characteristics and aspects of the CNV measurement, were examined. There was robust blunting of CNV activity in patients compared to HCs (ES = −0.79). The magnitude of this effect did not differ from reaction time slowing. Notably, CNV blunting in patients was significantly greater at central sites (ES = −0.87) compared to frontal sites (ES = −0.48). No other assessed methodological characteristics significantly moderated the magnitude of CNV differences. There is a large effect for CNV blunting in SZ that appears robust to potential confounds or methodological moderators. In addition, reduced CNV activity was statistically comparable to that of reaction time slowing. Blunting was the largest at central electrodes, which has been implicated in motor preparation. These findings speak to the complexity of psychomotor dysfunction in SZ and suggest significant promise for a biomarker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1144-1154
Number of pages11
JournalSchizophrenia bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Attention
  • Biomarker
  • Electrophysiology
  • Event-related potential
  • Motor
  • Psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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