Recently, schizophrenia endophenotypes have been actively investigated to better understand the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Past studies have shown that cognitive functions, including working memory and executive function, correlate with acoustic startle responses, such as prepulse inhibition (PPI), in patients with schizophrenia. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between cognitive functions and acoustic startle response in Japanese patients with schizophrenia. In 100 patients with schizophrenia, we evaluated cognitive function, using the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia, Japanese-language version (BACS-J), and acoustic startle responses, including acoustic startle reflex, habituation, and PPI (three different intensities: 82, 86, and 90 dB SPL, equivalent to signal-to-noise ratios of +12, +16, and +20 dB, respectively). Using multiple regression analysis, we examined the relationship between acoustic startle responses and BACS-J primary measures or composite score. Level of attention was associated with magnitude of habituation in schizophrenia (P = 0.0009, β = -0.357). None of the other domains of cognitive function were significantly associated with any measure of acoustic startle response. This included attention regarding ASR (P = 0.513), PPI (P = 0.521-0.842), verbal memory (P = 0.423-0.981), working memory (P = 0.312-0.966), motor speed (P = 0.323-0.955), verbal fluency (P = 0.125-0.920), executive function (P = 0.118-0.470), and the BACS-J composite score (P = 0.230-0.912). In this first investigation of the relationship between cognitive functions and acoustic startle responses in Japanese patients with schizophrenia, attentional deficits correlated highly with the level of habituation. However, a replication study using other population samples is required to further investigate this relationship.
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