The music of the (hemi)spheres sheds new light on schizophrenia

May 9, 2012, Elsevier

In 1619, the pioneering astronomer Johannes Kepler published Harmonices Mundi in which he analyzed data on the movement of planets and asserted that the laws of nature governing the movements of planets show features of harmonic relationships in music. In so doing, Kepler provided important support for the, then controversial, model of the universe proposed by Copernicus.

In the latest issue of Biological Psychiatry, researchers at the University of California in San Diego suggest that careful analyses of the electrical signals of brain activity, measured using electroencephalography (EEG), may reveal important harmonic relationships in the electrical activity of brain circuits.

The underlying premise is a simple one - that brain function is expressed by circuits that fire, and therefore generate oscillating EEG signals, at different frequencies.

High frequency EEG activity called gamma, for example, might reflect the activity of fast-spiking cells which are often a subclass of inhibitory containing parvalbumin. Represented musically, this would be a high pitch, i.e., toward the right side of the piano.

Lower frequency EEG activity, called theta, might come from cells that fire with a lower frequency.

As circuits interact with each other, one would see different "musical combinations", like the chords of music, emerging in the . Abnormalities in the structure and function of brain circuits would be reflected in cacophonous music, chords where the musical "voices" are firing at the wrong rate (pitch), volume (amplitude), or timing.

It is increasingly evident that schizophrenia is a disorder characterized by disturbances in the "music of the ." This new report describes relationships between low- and high-frequency EEG oscillations in the human brain produced when high frequency auditory stimuli are presented to a research subject. The authors observed relatively slower oscillations and reduced cross-phase synchrony (for example, peak of theta coinciding with peak of gamma) in schizophrenia patients compared to healthy study participants.

Dr. John Krystal, Editor of , commented, "The new findings highlight the importance of understanding the relationships between different circuits. It seems that cortical abnormalities in schizophrenia disturb brain function, in part, by disturbing the 'tuning' of in relation to each other."

Explore further: Fast ripples confirmed to be valuable biomarker of area responsible for seizure activity in children

More information: The article is "Hierarchical Organization of Gamma and Theta Oscillatory Dynamics in Schizophrenia" by Kenji Kirihara, Anthony J. Rissling, Neal R. Swerdlow, David L. Braff, and Gregory A. Light (doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.01.016). The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 71, Issue 10 (May 15, 2012)

Related Stories

Fast ripples confirmed to be valuable biomarker of area responsible for seizure activity in children

July 29, 2011
New research focusing on high-frequency oscillations, termed ripples and fast ripples, recorded by intracranial electroencephalography (EEG), may provide an important marker for the localization of the brain region responsible ...

A 'brain wave' test for schizophrenia risk?

May 17, 2011
There is a significant need for objective tests that could improve clinical prediction of future psychosis.

Scientists identify mechanism that could contribute to problems in Alzheimer's

April 26, 2012
Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have unraveled a process by which depletion of a specific protein in the brain contributes to the memory problems associated with Alzheimer's disease. These findings provide new insights ...

Recommended for you

Brain zaps may help curb tics of Tourette syndrome

January 16, 2018
Electric zaps can help rewire the brains of Tourette syndrome patients, effectively reducing their uncontrollable vocal and motor tics, a new study shows.

A 'touching sight': How babies' brains process touch builds foundations for learning

January 16, 2018
Touch is the first of the five senses to develop, yet scientists know far less about the baby's brain response to touch than to, say, the sight of mom's face, or the sound of her voice.

Researchers identify protein involved in cocaine addiction

January 16, 2018
Mount Sinai researchers have identified a protein produced by the immune system—granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF)—that could be responsible for the development of cocaine addiction.

Neuroscientists suggest a model for how we gain volitional control of what we hold in our minds

January 16, 2018
Working memory is a sort of "mental sketchpad" that allows you to accomplish everyday tasks such as calling in your hungry family's takeout order and finding the bathroom you were just told "will be the third door on the ...

Brain imaging predicts language learning in deaf children

January 15, 2018
In a new international collaborative study between The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, researchers created a machine learning algorithm that uses brain scans to predict ...

Preterm babies may suffer setbacks in auditory brain development, speech

January 15, 2018
Preterm babies born early in the third trimester of pregnancy are likely to experience delays in the development of the auditory cortex, a brain region essential to hearing and understanding sound, a new study reveals. Such ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.