Brain circuit problem likely sets stage for the "voices" that are symptom of schizophrenia

Posted on June 10, 2014

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have identified problems in a connection between brain structures that may predispose individuals to hearing the "voices" that are a common symptom of schizophrenia.

Researchers linked the problem to a gene deletion. This leads to changes in brain chemistry that reduce the flow of information between two brain structures involved in processing auditory information.

The research marks the first time that a specific circuit in the brain has been linked to the auditory hallucinations, delusions and other psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. The disease is a chronic, devastating brain disorder that affects about 1 percent of Americans and causes them to struggle with a variety of problems, including thinking, learning and memory.

The disrupted circuit identified in this study solves the mystery of how current antipsychotic drugs ease symptoms and provides a new focus for efforts to develop medications that quiet "voices" but cause fewer side effects.

"We think that reducing the flow of information between these two brain structures that play a central role in processing auditory information sets the stage for stress or other factors to come along and trigger the 'voices' that are the most common psychotic symptom of schizophrenia," said the study's corresponding author Stanislav Zakharenko, M.D., Ph.D., an associate member of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology. “These findings also integrate several competing models regarding changes in the brain that lead to this complex disorder.”


Category(s):Schizophrenia

Source material from St Jude Children's Research Hospital


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