Latent inhibition and its potential as a biomarker for schizophrenia

Summary

The biological heterogeneity of schizophrenia continues to be a major obstacle for clinical practice and the development of novel drug treatments. A non-invasive biomarker to define sub-groups of patients with common neurobiological underpinnings would dramatically improve detection, diagnosis and the efficacy of drug development, not only for schizophrenia but for a range of psychiatric disorders. Latent inhibition is one candidate biomarker for schizophrenia that generated a surge of interest in the 1980′s and early 2000′s but fell under scrutiny due to inconsistent reports around its construct validity and predictive efficacy for detecting abnormal latent inhibition in patients. Latent inhibition as a preclinical model of schizophrenia however, has long been established with comprehensive literature documenting the neurochemical substrates of latent inhibition and its links to schizophrenia. Here we provide a brief review of the history behind latent inhibition and the limitations of existing human paradigms, before discussing a more recent latent inhibition task modification and its potential as a biomarker for schizophrenia. The application of latent inhibition as a tool for use in clinical practice (e.g., to the detection of early psychosis) and pharmaceutical clinical trials (e.g., to stratify patient groups) is discussed.

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