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: Neuronal migration errors: Right cells, wrong place

Related Stories

Neuronal migration errors: Right cells, wrong place

January 4, 2011

Normally, cortical nerve cells or neurons reside in the brain's gray matter with only a few scattered neurons in the white matter, but some people with schizophrenia have a higher number of neurons in the white matter. Neuronal ...

Immune molecule regulates brain connections

February 27, 2011

The number of connections between nerve cells in the brain can be regulated by an immune system molecule, according to a new study from UC Davis. The research, published Feb. 27 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, reveals ...

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

Next steps in understanding brain function

August 26, 2016

The most complex piece of matter in the known universe is the brain. Neuroscientists have recently taken on the challenge to understand brain function from its intricate anatomy and structure. There is no sure way to go about ...

Scientists map brain's action center

August 25, 2016

When you reach for that pan of brownies, a ball-shaped brain structure called the striatum is critical for controlling your movement toward the reward. A healthy striatum also helps you stop yourself when you've had enough.

0 comments

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.