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Sleep spindles are related to schizotypal personality traits and thalamic glutamine/glutamate in healthy subjects.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Lustenberger Caroline, O'Gorman Ruth L, Pugin Fiona, Tüshaus Laura, Wehrle Flavia, Achermann Peter, Huber Reto,
Project Sleep onset and other state transitions: insights from quantitative EEG analysis
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Schizophrenia bulletin
Volume (Issue) 41(2)
Page(s) 522 - 31
Title of proceedings Schizophrenia bulletin
DOI 10.1093/schbul/sbu109


Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder affecting approximately 1% of the worldwide population. Yet, schizophrenia-like experiences (schizotypy) are very common in the healthy population, indicating a continuum between normal mental functioning and the psychosis found in schizophrenic patients. A continuum between schizotypy and schizophrenia would be supported if they share the same neurobiological origin. Two such neurobiological markers of schizophrenia are: (1) a reduction of sleep spindles (12-15 Hz oscillations during nonrapid eye movement sleep), likely reflecting deficits in thalamo-cortical circuits and (2) increased glutamine and glutamate (Glx) levels in the thalamus. Thus, this study aimed to investigate whether sleep spindles and Glx levels are related to schizotypal personality traits in healthy subjects. Twenty young male subjects underwent 2 all-night sleep electroencephalography recordings (128 electrodes). Sleep spindles were detected automatically. After those 2 nights, thalamic Glx levels were measured by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Subjects completed a magical ideation scale to assess schizotypy. Sleep spindle density was negatively correlated with magical ideation (r = -.64, P < .01) and thalamic Glx levels (r = -.70, P < .005). No correlation was found between Glx levels in the thalamus and magical ideation (r = .12, P > .1). The common relationship of sleep spindle density with schizotypy and thalamic Glx levels indicates a neurobiological overlap between nonclinical schizotypy and schizophrenia. Thus, sleep spindle density and magical ideation may reflect the anatomy and efficiency of the thalamo-cortical system that shows pronounced impairment in patients with schizophrenia.