About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Children Under Risk of Schizophrenia Have Brain Activity Different from That of Others

by Enozia Vakil on March 23, 2013 at 3:16 PM
Font : A-A+

 Children Under Risk of Schizophrenia Have Brain Activity Different from That of Others

New research from the University of North Carolina revealed that brains of children that have a risk of developing schizophrenia function differently than those that are not at a risk..

Brain scans of children who have parents or siblings with the illness reveal a neural circuitry that is hyperactivated or stressed by tasks that peers with no family history of the illness seem to handle with ease.

Advertisement

Because these differences in brain functioning appear before neuropsychiatric symptoms such as trouble focusing, paranoid beliefs, or hallucinations, the scientists believe that the finding could point to early warning signs or "vulnerability markers" for schizophrenia.

"The downside is saying that anyone with a first degree relative with schizophrenia is doomed. Instead, we want to use our findings to identify those individuals with differences in brain function that indicate they are particularly vulnerable, so we can intervene to minimize that risk," said senior study author Aysenil Belger, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine.
Advertisement

The UNC study, published online on March 6, 2013, in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, is one of the first to look for alterations in brain activity associated with mental illness in individuals as young as nine years of age.

Individuals who have a first degree family member with schizophrenia have an 8-fold to 12-fold increased risk of developing the disease. However, there is no way of knowing for certain who will become schizophrenic until symptoms arise and a diagnosis is reached. Some of the earliest signs of schizophrenia are a decline in verbal memory, IQ, and other mental functions, which researchers believe stem from an inefficiency in cortical processing - the brain's waning ability to tackle complex tasks.

In this study, Belger and her colleagues sought to identify what if any functional changes occur in the brains of adolescents at high risk of developing schizophrenia. She performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on 42 children and adolescents ages 9 to 18, half of which had relatives with schizophrenia and half of which did not. Study participants each spent an hour and a half playing a game where they had to identify a specific image - a simple circle - out of a lineup of emotionally evocative images, such as cute or scary animals. At the same time, the MRI machine scanned for changes in brain activity associated with each target detection task.

Belger found that the circuitry involved in emotion and higher order decision making was hyperactivated in individuals with a family history of schizophrenia, suggesting that the task was stressing out these areas of the brain in the study subjects.

"This finding shows that these regions are not activating normally," she says. "We think that this hyperactivation eventually damages these specific areas in the brain to the point that they become hypoactivated in patients, meaning that when the brain is asked to go into high gear it no longer can."

Belger is currently exploring what kind of role stress plays in the changing mental capacity of adolescents at high risk of developing schizophrenia. Though only a fraction of these individuals will be diagnosed with schizophrenia, Belger thinks it is important to pinpoint the most vulnerable people early to explore interventions that may stave off the mental illness.

"It may be as simple as understanding that people are different in how they cope with stress," says Belger. "Teaching strategies to handle stress could make these individuals less vulnerable to not just schizophrenia but also other neuropsychiatric disorders."
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Is COVID-19 Vaccination during Pregnancy Safe?
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Parkinsons Disease Schizophrenia Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Height and Weight-Kids Brain Brain Facts Ataxia Language Areas in The Brain Ways to Improve your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Mental Health - Neurosis vs Psychosis 

Recommended Reading
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by symptoms of thought, behavior and social ......
An Antioxidant Can Help Prevent Neuron Loss in Schizophrenia and Depression
In schizophrenia and depression gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) deficits have been implicated....
Researchers Unearth The Mysterious GRIN3A and the Cause of Schizophrenia
Psychiatrists have been hunting for substances made by the body that might accumulate in abnormally ...
In Schizophrenia, Memory can be Improved by Tickling the Brain With Magnetic Stimulation
In patients with schizophrenia, cognitive impairments are disabling as no proper treatments ......
Ataxia
Ataxia affects coordination. Gait becomes unstable and the patient loses balance. The cerebellum or ...
Language Areas in The Brain
The mechanism of how human brain processes the language to express and comprehend the verbal, writte...
Mental Health - Neurosis vs Psychosis
Mental well-being is a concern and abnormal coping of emotions can lead to neurosis or psychosis. Me...
Parkinsons Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by progressive dopamine brain cells loss. ...
Ways to Improve your Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a psychological measure of human intelligence. Regular physical and me...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use