Shared reduction of oscillatory natural frequencies in bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia

Paola Canali, Simone Sarasso, Mario Rosanova, Silvia Casarotto, Giovanna Sferrazza-Papa, Olivia Gosseries, Matteo Fecchio, Marcello Massimini, Maurizio Mariotti, Roberto Cavallaro, Enrico Smeraldi, Cristina Colombo, Francesco Benedetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Abstract Introduction Recent studies have demonstrated that cortical brain areas tend to oscillate at a specific natural frequency when directly perturbed by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Fast electroencephalographic (EEG) oscillations, which typically originate from frontal regions, have been reported to be markedly reduced in schizophrenia. Methods Here we employed TMS/EEG to assess the natural frequency of the premotor area in a sample of 48 age-matched participants (12 each in major depression disorder (MDD)), bipolar disorder (BPD), schizophrenia (SCZ) and healthy controls. Event related spectral perturbations (ERSP) were obtained for each study participant using wavelet decomposition. Results TMS resulted in a significant activation of the beta/gamma band response (21-50 Hz) to frontal cortical perturbation in healthy control subjects. By contrast, the main frequencies of frontal EEG responses to TMS were significantly reduced in patients with BPD, MDD and SCZ (11-27 Hz) relative to healthy subjects. Conclusions Patients with bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia showed a significantly lower natural frequency of frontal cortico-thalamocortical circuits compared to healthy controls. These results suggest a common neurobiological mechanism of corticothalamic impairment. The most likely candidates include dysfunction of GABAergic circuits. Limitations Further studies are needed to consider other biological markers, gene variants, and their interaction with clinical variables.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7479
Pages (from-to)111-115
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Jun 12 2015


  • GABAergic circuits
  • Gamma oscillations
  • Neuropsychiatric disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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