Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Noisy brain signals: How schizophrenic brain misinterprets the world

Date:
April 2, 2014
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Certain errors in visual perception in people with schizophrenia are consistent with interference or 'noise' in a brain signal known as a corollary discharge, a new study shows. 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 external sources, as in the case of auditory hallucinations. Other common symptoms include delusions and disorganized thinking and speech.

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.

Related Articles


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 external sources, as in the case of auditory hallucinations. Other common symptoms include delusions and disorganized thinking and speech.

Recent research has suggested that an impaired corollary discharge can account for some of these symptoms. However, the nature of the impairment was unknown. In their study, Dr. Pack and his colleagues (including Dr. Alby Richard, neurology resident at The Neuro) used a test called a perisaccadic localization task, to investigate corollary discharge activity. In this test, subjects are asked to make quick eye movements to follow a dot on a computer screen. At the same time they are also asked to localize visual stimuli that appear briefly on the screen from time to time. In order to perform this task accurately, subjects need to know where on the screen they are looking -- in other words they use corollary discharges signals that arise from the brain structures that control the eye muscles.

The results showed that people with schizophrenia were less accurate in figuring out where they were looking. Consequently they made more mistakes in estimating the position of the stimuli that were flashed on the screen. "What is interesting and potentially clinically important is that the pattern of mistakes made by the patients correlated with the extent of their symptoms," said Dr. Pack. ""This is particularly interesting because the circuits that control eye movements include the best-understood structures in the brain. So we are optimistic that we can work backward from the behavioral data to the biological basis of the corollary discharge effects. We have already started to do this with computational modeling. Mathematically we can convert the corollary discharge of a healthy control into the corollary discharge of a patient with schizophrenia by adding noise and randomness. It is not that people with schizophrenia have no corollary discharge, or a corollary discharge with delayed or weaker amplitude. Rather the patients appear primarily to have a noisy corollary discharge signal. This visual test is very easy thing to do and quite sensitive to individual differences. "

The study shows that patients with schizophrenia make larger errors in localizing visual stimuli compared to controls. These results could be explained by a corollary discharge signal, which also predicts patient symptom severity, suggesting a possible basis for some of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Richard, J. Churan, V. Whitford, G. A. O'Driscoll, D. Titone, C. C. Pack. Perisaccadic Perception of Visual Space in People with Schizophrenia. Journal of Neuroscience, 2014; 34 (14): 4760 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4744-13.2014

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Noisy brain signals: How schizophrenic brain misinterprets the world." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402110008.htm>.
McGill University. (2014, April 2). Noisy brain signals: How schizophrenic brain misinterprets the world. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402110008.htm
McGill University. "Noisy brain signals: How schizophrenic brain misinterprets the world." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402110008.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins