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Brainwaves & Schizophrenia

March 6, 2008

Mental illness alters brainwaves during neural processing.


The frequency of mental illness. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Whether we’re awake or asleep, our brains constantly produce electrical activity, or brainwaves. These waves are measured in Hertz, the frequency or rate at which they are emitted each second. Mathematician Nancy Kopell of Boston University studies the electrical activity of the brain. She says when most people listen to clicks through headphones at a frequency of 40 Hertz, the primary auditory cortex of the brain produces electrical activity of 40Hz.

NANCY KOPELL (Boston University):
Which is no big surprise, since that’s what you put in.

But she says people with schizophrenia have impaired sensory processing abilities.

If you do the same thing to a person with schizophrenia, out will come a mixture of 20Hz and 40 Hz.

She says it’s still unknown whether schizophrenics who take medication would respond like other people. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.