March 03, 2005

Study: Brain out of Sync

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology

A new research study out of Sydney University, Australia suggests that the neural networks of people with schizophrenia function like members of an orchestra playing out of time.

   The AAP Information Services report stated that "In their research they used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to examine the brain function of 40 people recently diagnosed with schizophrenia aged between 13 and 25 and compared them with a healthy control group.

   The scientists from Australia's Brain Dynamics Centre looked at the synchronisation of rapidly-firing cells - a process known as gamma synchrony - as the subjects performed a task."

   The report suggested that while the neurons fired together in healthy individuals, they were significantly out of beat in patients with schizophrenia. The lead researcher, Dr. Lea Williams, stated that schizophrenia symptoms (e.g. hearing voices, etc.) is like an orchestra not working together in a synchronized fashion.

One of the researchers involved in the study, Prof Williams, stated that the research provided hope for developing better-tailored treatments for schizophrenia.

A previous research study in this area has shown that schizophrenia sufferers who had the mental illness for over 10 years exhibited a particularly extreme loss of neural synchrony in the areas of the brain related to their individual symptoms. Dr. Williams cmpared it to one musician being more out of time than the others.

In that research when the symptoms of someone with schizophrenia get worse in some particular way, then loss of synchrony gets worse in a very similar fashion. In other words, the loss of neural synchronization seems to mirror the schizophrenia symptoms as they unfold.

For more information:

Research Study Abstract, American Journal of Psychiatry: Effects of psychotic state and task demand on prefrontal function in schizophrenia: an FMRI study of overt verbal fluency


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