New Wave in Predicting Serious Mental Illness

Schizophrenia patients have different brain waves

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Schizophrenia is one of the most complex and serious mental illnesses, and scientists have been working on ways to predict who might be at risk for developing this disease. They're making progress.

It may soon be possible to predict if someone is at risk of developing schizophrenia by measuring their responses to different sounds.

"Predicting who's at risk for developing schizophrenia may soon be possible."

Using electroencephalography, which measures the brain's electrical activity or brain waves, German and Swiss researchers have discovered that people with schizophrenia respond differently to certain tones.

When rare, or what researchers call "deviant" tones are presented to healthy people, their brains automatically respond with an electrical brain wave that's called "mismatch negativity," or MMN for short. People with schizophrenia don't generate as much MMN as healthy brains do.

The study followed a group of people who were at high risk of developing psychosis.  Individuals who went on to be diagnosed with schizophrenia had smaller MMN than the group who did not.

Researchers suggest that measuring MMN could be useful in predicting who may go on to develop schizophrenia, but caution that more study is needed.

Findings of the study are published in the article "Prediction of Psychosis by Mismatch Negativity" appearing in the May 15, 2011 edition of Biological Psychology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 19, 2011
Last Updated:
May 19, 2011