Brain Waves Linked to Disordered Thinking in Schizophrenia

Gene Mutations in Schizophrenia

SchizophreniaA recent study of mice revealed brain activity that appears to produce disordered thinking in patients with schizophrenia.[1] Previously, it had been found that mutations in the gene for calcineurin were apparent in patients with schizophrenia.1 Over a decade ago, MIT researchers removed the gene from mice and found that they began to exhibit behavioral symptoms much like those seen in schizophrenia, including impaired short-term memory, attention deficits, and abnormal social behavior.1

Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience Susumu Tonegawa, Ph.D., and colleagues recently found that mice lacking calcineurin have hyperactive brain-wave oscillations in the hippocampus while resting, leading them to be unable to mentally replay a route they had just run along a track.1

Schizophrenia and Place Cells

In mice with no deficits, “place cells” in the hippocampus that are linked to specific locations around the track were able to fire in sequence when the mice were resting.1 This mental replay is tied to high frequency brain-wave oscillations that are known as ripple events.1 However, in mice lacking calcineurin, researchers found that while brain activity seemed normal while they ran the course, after pausing, their ripple events were much stronger and more frequent.1 Their place cells fire abnormally and out of order, suggesting they had issues replaying the route they had just run.1

According to Tonegawa, this pattern helps to explain some of the symptoms frequently seen in patients with schizophrenia.1 Their results suggest that patients with schizophrenia have a disorganized thinking process, as they do not have the ability to replay a previous experience correctly.1

In normal mice, calcineurin suppresses the connections between the neurons in the hippocampus; therefore, in mice without calcineurin, long-term potentiation (LTP) is common, making synapses stronger.1 Long-term potentiation is a long-lasting signal transmission enhancement between two neurons.1 LPT may also affect memory consolidation.1

Those with Schizophrenia have Active Brains During Restful States

Abnormally high LPT impacts the activity of cells during resting periods, and the brain’s default mode network, or the communication network that connects the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and other cortex areas, is disrupted.1 A person with schizophrenia has a more active brain during a restful state, especially between goal-oriented tasks.1 Therefore, patients do not perform well in these tasks.1

[1] Pedersen, T. (2013). Mouse Study: Researchers View Brain Waves Linked to Disordered Thinking in Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 18, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/10/17/mouse-study-researchers-view-brain-waves-linked-to-disordered-thinking-in-schizophrenia/60819.html

One Comment

  • Kim

    November 8, 2013, 10:55 am

    Good day! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading your blog posts.

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