Blocking NMDAR Disrupts Spike Timing and Decouples Monkey Prefrontal Circuits: Implications for Activity-Dependent Disconnection in Schizophrenia

We employed multi-electrode array recording to evaluate the influence of NMDA receptors (NMDAR) on spike-timing dynamics in prefrontal networks of monkeys as they performed a cognitive control task measuring specific deficits in schizophrenia. Systemic, periodic administration of an NMDAR antagonist (phencyclidine) reduced the prevalence and strength of synchronous (0-lag) spike correlation in simultaneously recorded neuron pairs. We employed transfer entropy analysis to measure effective connectivity between prefrontal neurons at lags consistent with monosynaptic interactions and found that effective connectivity was persistently reduced following exposure to the NMDAR antagonist. These results suggest that a disruption of spike timing and effective connectivity might be interrelated factors in pathogenesis, supporting an activity-dependent disconnection theory of schizophrenia. In this theory, disruption of NMDAR synaptic function leads to dysregulated timing of action potentials in prefrontal networks, accelerating synaptic disconnection through a spike-timing-dependent mechanism.