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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 723184, 24 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/723184
Review Article

GABA Neuron Alterations, Cortical Circuit Dysfunction and Cognitive Deficits in Schizophrenia

Translational Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA

Received 16 February 2011; Accepted 1 May 2011

Academic Editor: Tommaso Pizzorusso

Copyright © 2011 Guillermo Gonzalez-Burgos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder associated with cognitive deficits that severely affect the patients' capacity for daily functioning. Whereas our understanding of its pathophysiology is limited, postmortem studies suggest that schizophrenia is associated with deficits of GABA-mediated synaptic transmission. A major role of GABA-mediated transmission may be producing synchronized network oscillations which are currently hypothesized to be essential for normal cognitive function. Therefore, cognitive deficits in schizophrenia may result from a GABA synapse dysfunction that disturbs neural synchrony. Here, we highlight recent studies further suggesting alterations of GABA transmission and network oscillations in schizophrenia. We also review current models for the mechanisms of GABA-mediated synchronization of neural activity, focusing on parvalbumin-positive GABA neurons, which are altered in schizophrenia and whose function has been strongly linked to the production of neural synchrony. Alterations of GABA signaling that impair gamma oscillations and, as a result, cognitive function suggest paths for novel therapeutic interventions.