Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Noisy brain signals: How the schizophrenic brain misinterprets the world

People with schizophrenia often misinterpret what they see and experience in the world. New research provides insight into the brain mechanisms that might be responsible for this misinterpretation. The study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro - at McGill University and McGill University Health Centre, reveals that certain errors in visual perception in people with schizophrenia are consistent with interference or ‘noise’ in a brain signal known as a corollary discharge.  Corollary discharges are found throughout the animal kingdom, from bugs to fish to humans, and they are thought to be crucial for monitoring one’s own actions.  The study, published in the April 2 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, identifies a corollary discharge dysfunction in schizophrenia, which could aid with diagnosis and treatment of this difficult disorder. It was carried out in collaboration with researchers Veronica Whitford, Gillian O’Driscoll, and Debra Titone in the Department of Psychology, McGill University.
 
“A corollary discharge is a copy of a nervous system message that is sent to other parts of the brain, in order to make us aware that we are doing something,” said Dr. Christopher Pack, neuroscientist at The Neuro and lead investigator on the study.  “For example, if we want to move our arm, the motor area of the brain sends a signal to the muscles to produce a movement. A copy of this command, which is the corollary discharge, is sent to other regions of the brain, to inform them of the impending movement. If you were moving your arm, and you didn’t have the corollary discharge signal, you might assume that someone else was moving your arm. Similarly, if you generated a thought, and you had an impaired corollary discharge, then you might assume that someone else placed the thought in your mind. Corollary discharges ensure that different areas of the brain are communicating with each other, so that we are aware that we are moving our own arm, talking, or thinking our own thoughts.” Schizophrenia is a disorder that interferes with the ability to think clearly and to manage emotions. People with schizophrenia often attribute their own thoughts and actions to .....
 
 
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