Relationship of Metacognition and Insight to Neural Synchronization and Cognitive Function in Early Phase Psychosis

Bethany L. Leonhardt, Jenifer L. Vohs, Lisa A. Bartolomeo, Andrew Visco, William P. Hetrick, Amanda R. Bolbecker, Alan Breier, Paul H. Lysaker, Brian F. O’Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Metacognition is the process of thinking about one’s own mental states. It involves a range of faculties that allow an individual to integrate information and form understanding of self and others, and use this understanding to respond to life challenges. Clinical insight is the awareness of one’s mental illness, its consequences, and the need for treatment. Persons with psychotic disorders show impaired metacognition and insight, but the neurobiological bases for these impairments are not well characterized. We hypothesized that metacognition and insight may depend on capacity of neural circuits to synchronize at gamma frequencies, as well as the integrity of underlying cognitive processes. In order to test these hypotheses, 17 adults with early phase psychosis were evaluated. Metacognition was assessed with the Metacognition Assessment Scale–Abbreviated, and insight was assessed with the Scale of Unawareness of Illness–Abbreviated. The auditory steady state response (ASSR) to gamma range stimulation (40 Hz) was used as an index of neural synchronization. Cognitive function was assessed using the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia. Increases in ASSR power were associated with poorer metacognition and insight. Higher cognitive performance was associated with higher levels of metacognitive function and insight. These findings suggest that altered neural synchronization and constituent cognitive processes affect both metacognition and insight in early phase psychosis and may offer targets for both pharmacological and psychotherapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-266
Number of pages8
JournalClinical EEG and Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • auditory steady state potential
  • gamma frequency
  • metacognition
  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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