Study identifies brain abnormalities in people with schizophrenia

July 7, 2015, Georgia State University
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other brain imaging technologies allow for the study of differences in brain activity in people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The image shows two levels of the brain, with areas that were more active in healthy controls than in schizophrenia patients shown in orange, during an fMRI study of working memory. Credit: Kim J, Matthews NL, Park S./PLoS One.

Structural brain abnormalities in patients with schizophrenia, providing insight into how the condition may develop and respond to treatment, have been identified in an internationally collaborative study led by a Georgia State University scientist.

Scientists at more than a dozen locations across the United States and Europe analyzed brain MRI scans from 2,028 and 2,540 healthy controls, assessed with standardized methods at 15 centers worldwide. The findings, published in Molecular Psychiatry, help further the understanding of the .

The work was the outcome of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis project (ENIGMA), from the Schizophrenia Working Group that is co-chaired by Jessica Turner, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Georgia State, and Theo van Erp, assistant research professor in psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine.

"This is the largest structural brain meta-analysis to date in , and specifically, it is not a meta-analysis pulled only from the literature," said Turner. "Investigators dug into their desk drawers, including unpublished data to participate in these analyses. Everyone performed the same analyses using the same statistical models, and we combined the results. We then identified brain regions that differentiated patients from controls and ranked them according to their effect sizes."

The team found individuals with schizophrenia have smaller volume in the hippocampus, amygdala, thalamus, nucleus accumbens and intracranial space than controls, and larger pallidum and ventricle volumes. The study validates collaborative data analyses can be used across brain phenotypes and disorders, and encourages analysis and data-sharing efforts to further understanding of severe mental illness.

The ENIGMA collaborations include working groups for other disorders such as bipolar disorder, attention deficit, major depression, autism and addictions, who are all doing these same analyses.

The next step in this research is to compare the effects across disorders, to identify which brain region is the most affected in which disorder, and to determine the effects of age, medication, environment and symptom profiles across these disorders.

"There's the increased possibility, not just because of the massive datasets, but also because of the collaborative power being applied here from around the world, that we will find something real and reliable that will change how we think about these disorders and what we can do about them," Turner said.

Explore further: Study identifies biological mechanisms for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression

Related Stories

Study identifies biological mechanisms for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression

January 29, 2015
Common psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression share genetic risk factors related to immune function and DNA regulation, according to new findings by a large collaborative research ...

How a risk gene for schizophrenia affects the brain

May 25, 2015
Scientists have for the first time shown how the disruption of a key gene involved in mental illness impacts on the brain.

Advanced MRI scans could help predict people at risk of schizophrenia

May 11, 2015
New scanning methods which map the wiring of the brain could provide a valuable new tool to predict people at risk of schizophrenia, according to a new study.

Brain networks differ among those with severe schizophrenia, study shows

March 18, 2015
People with a severe form of schizophrenia have major differences in their brain networks compared to others with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and healthy individuals, a new study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental ...

Patients with recurrent depression have smaller hippocampi

June 29, 2015
The brains of people with recurrent depression have a significantly smaller hippocampus - the part of the brain most associated with forming new memories - than healthy individuals, a new global study of nearly 9,000 people ...

Brain development in schizophrenia strays from the normal path

September 15, 2014
Schizophrenia is generally considered to be a disorder of brain development and it shares many risk factors, both genetic and environmental, with other neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and intellectual disability.

Recommended for you

We can read each other's emotions from surprisingly tiny changes in facial color, study finds

March 19, 2018
Our faces broadcast our feelings in living color—even when we don't move a muscle.

Social media use at age 10 could reduce wellbeing of adolescent girls

March 19, 2018
Social media use may have different effects on wellbeing in adolescent boys and girls, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.

Study with infants suggests language not necessary for reasoning ability

March 16, 2018
A team of researchers from Spain, Hungary and Poland has found via a study with infants that language may not be a necessity for the ability to reason. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes ...

Hep C compounds alcoholism's effect on brain volume

March 16, 2018
(HealthDay)—Alcohol dependence has deleterious effects on frontal cortical volumes that are compounded by hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and drug dependence, according to a study published online March 14 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Study casts doubt on ketamine nasal sprays for depression

March 16, 2018
Researchers from the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney have questioned the efficacy and safety of intranasal ketamine for depression, with their pilot trial stopped early due to poor side effects in patients.

Older adults' difficulties with focusing can be used to help put a face to a name

March 16, 2018
Everyone has experienced the awkward situation of meeting someone and then forgetting their name shortly after. Among older adults, this happens more often than not.


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.