London, Nov 3 : Newcastle University scientists have found out what leads to the abnormal electrical waves in the brains of schizophrenia patients.
The researchers say that schizophrenics lack the vital brain receptor cells that control them.
They made this discovery when they used a drug, called ketamine, for switching off the receptors in rats, the waves changed frequency. The scientists believe that the new work could pave the way for new treatments.
According to an expert, the study has provided one of the first evidence of what might actually be going on to produce changes in electrical activity in the brain in people with schizophrenia
Earlier, when researchers looked at the differences between the brain function of people with and without schizophrenia, they found the "gamma frequency oscillation", a pattern of electrical activity, in schizophrenics With an aim to find the cause of this alteration, scientists used ketamine, which when applied to rat brain cells, changed the frequency of its electrical activity by blocking the NMDA brain receptor.
Ketamine is a recreational drug in humans, and has been known to cause some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, including hallucinations.
Thus, they concluded that people with schizophrenia either lack enough of these receptors, or they are just not working properly.
"We have shown that by selectively targeting receptors we can modify the dynamics of the brain," the BBC quoted Dr Mark Cunningham, who led the research, as saying.
He added: "Our hope would be that in the long term this could lead to a method for actually improving brain function, not only for people with schizophrenia, but potentially for many other brain conditions."
The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.