Hearing Deficits in Schizophrenia Tied to Specific Brain Receptor
With training and administration of an amino acid, patients can learn to distinguish subtle differences in pitch
The inability to hear subtle changes in pitch, a common and debilitating problem for people with schizophrenia, is due to dysfunctional N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) brain receptors, according to a study by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers. The study also shows that this hearing issue can be improved by combining auditory training exercises with a drug that targets NMDA receptors. “Slight variations in our tone of voice are in important way of communicating emotions, such as happiness or sadness,” said lead author Joshua T. Kantrowitz, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at CUMC. “This inability to detect subtle changes in pitch can also make it difficult to ‘sound out’ words while reading, with over 70 percent of patients meeting criteria for dyslexia and further exacerbating communication problems in social and work situations. But while psychiatrists have recommended medications for symptom control, these treatments have not addressed the underlying auditory deficits.”
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