Brainwaves could help understanding of mental health disorders

Feb 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at the University of Aberdeen have unlocked the details of a communication process that helps to generate the brainwaves that allow us to think and learn.

Ultimately their findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to new insights into psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and help guide future development of new anti-psychotic drugs.

The University of Aberdeen led team studied two types of brainwaves - theta and gamma waves - in the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

They have discovered that connections between rare types of nerve cells in the brain orchestrate the generation and interaction of these brain rhythms.

Brainwaves arise from synchronised activity of large groups of nerve cells and are required for efficient mental processing.

Rare cells in the brain - parvalbumin-expressing interneurons - are key to the whole process.

These cells send out inhibitory signals to thousands of other cells and therefore generate the brainwaves.

The team of biologists and mathematicians from Aberdeen, Boston and Heidelberg Universities reveal the actual link between these cells that helps trigger the brain activity.

The scientists also discovered that this link plays a part in how different brain waves interact with each other.

Dr Peer Wulff, who led the research in Aberdeen together with Dr Marlene Bartos and Professor Bill Wisden at the University's Institute of Medical Sciences, said: "We have discovered a cellular mechanism that controls brain rhythms. This is an area that scientists have hypothesised about over the past decade.

"Patients suffering from schizophrenia are known to have a loss of the type of cells that play a key role in this process.

"If we can understand more about the cellular mechanics of brainwaves then what we learn may one day lead to the development of better drugs for the treatment of psychiatric disorders."

Provided by University of Aberdeen

Explore further: The impact of bacteria in our guts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New type of solar concentrator desn't block the view

8 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through ...

Cities, states face off on municipal broadband

9 hours ago

Wilson, N.C., determined nearly a decade ago that high-speed Internet access would be essential to the community's social and economic health in the 21st century, just as electricity, water and sewers were in the previous ...

Recommended for you

The impact of bacteria in our guts

Aug 22, 2014

The word metabolism gets tossed around a lot, but it means much more than whether you can go back to the buffet for seconds without worrying about your waistline. In fact, metabolism is the set of biochemical ...

Stem cell therapies hold promise, but obstacles remain

Aug 22, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—In an article appearing online today in the journal Science, a group of researchers, including University of Rochester neurologist Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., review the potential and ch ...

New hope in fight against muscular dystrophy

Aug 22, 2014

Research at Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology offers hope to those who suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an incurable, debilitating disease that cuts young lives short.

Biologists reprogram skin cells to mimic rare disease

Aug 21, 2014

Johns Hopkins stem cell biologists have found a way to reprogram a patient's skin cells into cells that mimic and display many biological features of a rare genetic disorder called familial dysautonomia. ...

User comments : 0