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Synchronized Thinking: Brain activity linked to schizophrenia, skillful meditation

The collective activity of huge assemblies of brain cells, as reflected in their rhythmic electrical discharges, contributes to the derailed perceptions and thoughts of schizophrenia as well as to the heightened mental states achieved by experienced meditators, two new studies find.

Results from both investigations, slated to appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, coincide with earlier reports that a certain form of synchronized electrical activity in groups of brain cells fosters perception, memory, and consciousness (SN: 3/11/00, p. 167: Available to subscribers at Brain cells work together to pay attention).

All these studies rely on electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings of the rate and intensity at which cells on the brain's surface send messages. Of particular interest are the gamma waves produced when masses of neurons emit their electrical signals around 40 times a second.

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