Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a serious mental disorder, and its pathogenesis is complex. Recently, the glutamate hypothesis and the excitatory/inhibitory (E/I) imbalance hypothesis have been proposed as new pathological hypotheses for SCZ. Combined transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG) is a non-invasive novel method that enables us to investigate the cortical activity in humans, and this modality is a suitable approach to evaluate these hypotheses. In this study, we systematically reviewed TMS-EEG studies that investigated the cortical dysfunction of SCZ to examine the emerging hypotheses for SCZ. The following search terms were set in this systematic review: (TMS or ‘transcranial magnetic stimulation’) and (EEG or electroencephalog*) and (schizophrenia). We inspected the articles written in English that examined humans and were pub-lished by March 2020 via MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, and PubMed. The initial search generated 379 studies, and 14 articles were finally identified. The current review noted that patients with SCZ demonstrated the E/I deficits in the prefrontal cortex, whose dysfunctions were also associated with cognitive impairment and clinical severity. Moreover, TMS-induced gamma activity in the prefrontal cortex was related to positive symptoms, while theta/delta band activities were associated with negative symptoms in SCZ. Thus, this systematic review discusses aspects of the pathophysiological neural basis of SCZ that are not explained by the traditional dopamine hypothesis exclusively, based on the findings of previous TMS-EEG research, mainly in terms of the E/I imbalance hypothesis. In conclusion, TMS-EEG neurophysiology can be applied to establish objective biomarkers for better diagnosis as well as to develop new therapeutic strategies for patients with SCZ.
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