The brains of people with schizophrenia may attempt to heal from the disease

August 8, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- New NeuRA research shows that the brains of people with schizophrenia may attempt to repair damage caused by the disease, in another example of the adult brain’s capacity to change and grow.

Prof. Cyndi Shannon Weickert, Dr. Dipesh Joshi and colleagues from Neuroscience Research Australia studied the brains of people with and focussed on one of the hardest-hit regions, the orbitofrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain involved in regulating emotional and social behaviour.

Most neurons – brain cells that transmit information – are found in tissue near the surface of the brain. However, in the brains of people with schizophrenia, the team found a high density of neurons in deeper areas.

“For over a decade we’ve known about the high density of neurons in deeper brain tissue in people with schizophrenia. Researchers thought these neurons were simply forgotten by the brain, and somehow didn’t die off like they do during development in healthy people,” says Prof. Shannon Weickert.

“What we now have is evidence that suggests these neurons are derived from the part of the brain that produces new neurons, and that they may be in the process of moving. We can’t be sure where they are moving to, but given their location it is likely they are on their way to the surface of the brain, the area most affected by schizophrenia,” Prof. Shannon Weickert concluded.

How was this study done?

  • tissue from the orbitofrontal cortex from 38 people with schizophrenia and 38 people without the disease were used in this study.
  • The density of interstitial neurons in the , and the density of GABAergic neurons in the grey matter were measured.
  • An increased density of interstitial white matter neurons in the white matter, and decreased density of GABAergic neurons in the grey matter was found.
  • This pattern suggests that the migration of interstitial white matter towards an area where they are lacking, because of schizophrenia, is a response to the disease.

Explore further: Filters that reduce 'brain clutter' identified

Related Stories

In schizophrenia research, a path to the brain through the nose

January 25, 2012

A significant obstacle to progress in understanding psychiatric disorders is the difficulty in obtaining living brain tissue for study so that disease processes can be studied directly. Recent advances in basic cellular neuroscience ...

Recommended for you

New insights on how cocaine changes the brain

November 25, 2015

The burst of energy and hyperactivity that comes with a cocaine high is a rather accurate reflection of what's going on in the brain of its users, finds a study published November 25 in Cell Reports. Through experiments conducted ...

Can physical exercise enhance long-term memory?

November 25, 2015

Exercise can enhance the development of new brain cells in the adult brain, a process called adult neurogenesis. These newborn brain cells play an important role in learning and memory. A new study has determined that mice ...

Brain connections predict how well you can pay attention

November 24, 2015

During a 1959 television appearance, Jack Kerouac was asked how long it took him to write his novel On The Road. His response – three weeks – amazed the interviewer and ignited an enduring myth that the book was composed ...

Umbilical cells help eye's neurons connect

November 24, 2015

Cells isolated from human umbilical cord tissue have been shown to produce molecules that help retinal neurons from the eyes of rats grow, connect and survive, according to Duke University researchers working with Janssen ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.