AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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Schizophrenia Symptoms Linked to Features of Brain’s Anatomy

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Using advanced brain imaging, researchers have matched certain behavioral symptoms of schizophrenia to features of the brain’s anatomy. The findings, determined by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, could be a step toward improving diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia. During the study, published in the journal NeuroImage, researchers evaluated MRI scans using a technique called diffusion tensor imaging in 36 healthy volunteers and 47 people with schizophrenia. The scans of patients with schizophrenia revealed various abnormalities in portions of the corpus callosum, a bundle of fibers that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain and is considered critical to neural communication. When the researchers looked at abnormalities across the corpus callosum, they found that certain characteristics revealed in the brain scans matched specific symptoms of schizophrenia. For example, patients with specific features in one part of the corpus callosum typically displayed bizarre and disorganized behavior. In other patients, irregularities in a different part of that structure were associated with disorganized thinking and speech and symptoms such as a lack of emotion. Other brain abnormalities in the corpus callosum were associated with delusions or hallucinations. This study provides further evidence that schizophrenia is a heterogeneous group of disorders rather than a single disorder. The researchers believe it will be important for future studies to focus on how precise gene networks are linked to specific brain features and individual symptoms so that treatments can be tailored to patients. To read more about this study, click here.

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