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Brain Short-Circuit Triggers Schizophrenia

Brain Short-Circuit Triggers SchizophreniaA new study suggests abnormalities in the white matter of the brain appear to influence the development of schizophrenia.

The study, led by Professor Phillip McGuire and Dr. Sophia Frangou at the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King’s College London, discovered young adolescents with severe deficits of white matter in the posterior region of the brain–specifically the parietal region–develop schizophrenia.

The researchers also found that as people grow older, their deficits “migrate” in a back to front manner and in adulthood, they impact the frontal lobes of the brain quite dramatically.

The research is published in this month’s edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Schizophrenia is a disabling and emotionally devastating illness that affects about one percent of the population worldwide.

Professor McGuire, from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and IoP comments: “Although we can trace the origins of schizophrenia to early brain development we still do not know what triggers the onset of the full blown symptoms. Our study suggests that at least part of the answer lies in problems affecting the ‘wiring’ of key brain areas.”

The team used Diffusion Tensor Imaging, a state-of-the-art neuroimaging technique, to examine white matter connections in adolescents and adults with schizophrenia.

Abnormalities in white matter appeared first in posterior parts of the brain in the younger patients and became more prominent in the frontal lobes in adult patients. In interpreting the results, Dr. Kyriakopoulos, the lead author, explained that the scans capture the interaction between brain development and disease mechanisms.

Dr. Frangou said the study “takes a life-long view on schizophrenia and thereby bridges traditional barriers between child and adult patients.”

The study adds new insight to mounting evidence that abnormalities in white matter play a critical role in what turns schizophrenia on and may provide clues to new treatments.

Source: King’s College London

Brain Short-Circuit Triggers Schizophrenia

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Brain Short-Circuit Triggers Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2018, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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