Schizophrenia: 2,000 Brain Scans Reveal Vital Structural Differences

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The brains of 2,028 people with schizophrenia were compared to healthy controls.

People with schizophrenia have smaller volumes in critical areas of the brain, a new study finds.

The research supports the idea that schizophrenia can be linked to disturbed brain development.

The areas affected include the hippocampus, which is involved in the formation of long-term memories.

Along with a smaller hippocampus, the amygdala and thalamus were also smaller in those with schizophrenia.

The amygdala processes emotion, while the thalamus regulates consciousness, sleep and alertness, amongst other functions.

The research compared brain scans of 2,028 people with schizophrenia with 2,540 healthy controls.

Professor Jessica Turner, who co-led the study, explained where their data came from:

“This is the largest structural brain meta-analysis to date in schizophrenia, and specifically, it is not a meta-analysis pulled only from the literature.

Investigators dug into their desk drawers, including unpublished data to participate in these analyses.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.”

Professor Turner continued:

“There’s the increased possibility, not just because of the massive datasets, but also because of the collaborative brain 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.”

The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry (van Erp et al., 2015).

Network brain image from Shutterstock

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Published: 11 July 2015

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