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Ferrarelli F, Peterson MJ, Sarasso S, Riedner BA, Murphy MJ, Benca RM, Bria P, Kalin NH, Tononi G. Thalamic dysfunction in schizophrenia suggested by whole-night deficits in slow and fast spindles. Am J Psychiatry . 2010 Nov ; 167(11):1339-48. PubMed Abstract

Comments on Paper and Primary News
Comment by:  John LismanYuchun ZhangNonna Otmakhova
Submitted 9 November 2010 Posted 9 November 2010

Understanding the mystery of schizophrenia requires the interpretation of clues. When multiple clues point to the same culprit, there is increased hope that the mystery will be solved. A recently published paper provides one clue that the thalamus may be of special importance in schizophrenia (Ferrarelli et al., 2010). This paper reports abnormalities in EEG spindles in schizophrenia. Spindles are high-voltage thalamocortical oscillations in the 10-15 Hz range that wax and wane in about a second and occur during Stage 2 sleep. Ferrarelli et al. found that, in schizophrenia patients, these spindles are reduced in number, amplitude, and duration. Importantly, this reduction was relative to a control group that received neuroleptics, making it likely that the spindle abnormality is due to the disease rather than the treatment. The authors found correlations between the spindle properties and symptoms of the disease. For example, spindle number negatively correlates with hallucinations, conceptual disorganization, and stereotyped...  Read more

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Comment by:  Claude Gottesmann
Submitted 15 November 2010 Posted 15 November 2010

Thalamic reticular nucleus and schizophrenia
Ferrarelli et al. examine the occurrence of slow and fast sleep spindles and slow-wave activity in schizophrenia. The authors clearly observed a general decrease in spindle number, amplitude, duration, and integrated activity that was not related to any pharmacological treatment. No change was observed in slow-wave activity.

”It is the dialogue between the thalamus and the cortex that generates subjectivity” (p. 532) (Llinas and Paré, 1991). This quotation from 1991 shows that the role of the thalamus in higher integrated processes has been underlined for quite some time, based on sleep-waking research. The paper of Ferrarelli et al. confirms that “sleep offers important advantages for investigating possible dysfunctions in brain circuits in schizophrenia patients” (p. 1) (Ferrarelli et al., 2010). This study of slow-wave sleep features in schizophrenia is paralleled by research devoted to REM sleep. The work by Ferrarelli...  Read more

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