Schizophrenia by Ronald Chase

Schizophrenia by Ronald Chase

Author:Ronald Chase
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Published: 2013-07-08T16:00:00+00:00

SUMMARY

■ The term mental illness is misleading because it invites one to imagine an illness of the mind. In fact, mental illness is not in the mind; it is in the brain.

■ Biomarkers of schizophrenia include anatomical, physiological, and neurochemical abnormalities, among them thinner cerebral cortices, larger fluid-filled spaces, displaced or absent neurons, and alterations in several of the major neurotransmitter systems (glutamate, gamma-aminobutyric acid, and dopamine).

■ One or more of the biomarkers may eventually serve as physical criteria for diagnosis, thereby replacing the psychiatrists’ judgments of behavior, which are currently used. However, to be useful in the development of therapeutic agents, alterations that cause the symptoms must be distinguished from alterations that are simply secondary effects, such as from changes in medication and lifestyle.

■ Researchers are focusing on the prefrontal cortex because it mediates many of the cognitive functions that fail in schizophrenia. Studies find a weakening of inhibition in microcircuits, which causes a key cell type to fire action potentials at inappropriately high frequencies. Also, electrical events in the prefrontal lobe and the hippocampus are partially disconnected in schizophrenia owing to structural defects in axonal pathways.

■ An impairment of glutamate neurotransmission seems to underlie the dysfunction in prefrontal microcircuits. More broadly, genetic evidence and the abundance of biomarkers suggest that schizophrenia is the result of multiple neurodevelopmental errors that act together to impair brain circuits.



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