What’s an appropriate control group for a schizophrenia study?

The researchers who did Our long-term memory usually selects what we pay closer visual attention to study were back zapping subjects’ brains again in this 2015 human study.

Prior to zapping subjects’ brains:

“In healthy individuals, these theta waves were steady and synchronized, but in people with schizophrenia, the waves were weak and disorganized, suggesting that they were having a harder time processing the mistake. And the subjects’ behavior bore that out—the healthy subjects slowed down by a few milliseconds when they made mistakes and did better in the next round, while the subjects with schizophrenia did not.”

Processing of an appropriate control group wasn’t clear to me from reading supplementary material. Subject patients were diagnosed with schizophrenia and took psychoactive medication which these researchers equated to chlorpromazine (Thorazine) dosages. Control group subjects had neither the condition nor were prescribed medications.

  • How did these researchers differentiate influences of psychoactive medications on experimental results from other influences on subjects’ conditions?
  • Were there numerical calculations not shown in supplementary material that somehow nullified effects of psychoactive medications?
  • To be sure that zapping was effective for subjects’ conditions, wouldn’t control group subjects need to take the same medications so that experimental data reflected only differences attributable to schizophrenia?

These researchers also asserted:

“Causal changes in the low-frequency oscillations improved behavioral responses to errors and long-range connectivity at the single-trial level.”

However, brain waves can’t be termed as base causes of human behavior. Studies such as:

clearly established that brain waves are effects of base causes.

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/30/9448.full “Synchronizing theta oscillations with direct-current stimulation strengthens adaptive control in the human brain”

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One thought on “What’s an appropriate control group for a schizophrenia study?

  1. Thanks, Nick!

    As you said, giving the same psychoactive medication to the control group subjects as the subject patients take would likely cause cognitive deficits in healthy people. When the researchers stated “..it is unlikely that the effects we observed are simply due to the presence of antipsychotic medication” they’re just making up things with numbers, in my view. The reality of psychoactive medication is different.

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