Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Grey matter, schizophrenia and recovery

There are distinct differences in the brains of people who suffer from schizophrenia which have less grey matter in the cortex, hippocampus and amygdala regions. However, there is some debate as to whether these are inherent differences or whether the changes in brain structure are cause by the effects of the schizophrenia. Scientists often study the close relatives of people with schizophrenia in an attempt to see whether there is any familial link to the condition. A study on 104 people in Canada compared the siblings of schizophrenia sufferers with a control group. The researchers found the siblings had grey matter deficits in their cortexes compared to the control group. However, if the siblings stayed healthy and did not develop schizophrenia their brains recovered by the time they reached twenty and their psychological health was as good as the control group. This led the researchers to conclude that there was a familial link to schizophrenia but that if people stayed healthy the brain could recover any defecits over time.

Gogtay, Nitin ... [et al] - Cortical brain development in nonpsychotic siblings of patients with childhood-onset schizophrenia Archives of General Psychiatry July 2007, 64(7), 772-780

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