MAR 08, 2020 1:20 PM PDT

Brain Scans Reveal There are Two Kinds of Schizophrenia

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Schizophrenia is a chronic neurological disorder that affects around 3.5 million people in the US; three quarters of them developing the condition between the ages of 16 and 25. Now, contrary to previous knowledge, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that there may be two different varieties of the disorder. 

Although poorly understood, the neurobiology of schizophrenia is generally thought to be linked to a reduction of grey matter volume, the brain tissue that contains the main body of neurons. According to Christos Davatzikos lead author of the study, “Numerous other studies have shown that people with schizophrenia have significantly smaller volumes of brain tissue than healthy controls.”

This new research however shows that this may not be the case. For the study, Davatzikos and his team applied a machine learning method, HYDRA (Heterogeneity Through Discriminate Analysis) to over 307 MRI scans from patients with schizophrenia alongside 364 scans from healthy control subjects. They then categorized each brain into neuroanatomical subtypes. 

In the end, they found that not only did 40% of the patients with schizophrenia have relatively normal amounts of grey matter in their brains, but they also displayed small increases in grey matter in a central area known as the striatum when compared to those in the control group. These findings remained even after adjusting results for factors including medications taken and age. 

Although the researchers say it is too early to say exactly what separates these two kinds of schizophrenia, they say that these findings provide new research pathways to better understand why some treatments work on some patients and not others, as well as ways to develop new, more personalized treatments. 

Daniel Wolf. co-senior author of the study, said, “The treatments for schizophrenia work really well in a minority of people, pretty well in most people, and hardly at all in a minority of people...We mostly can't predict that outcome, so it becomes a matter of trial and error. Now that we are starting to understand the biology behind this disorder, then we will hopefully one day have more informed, personalized approaches to treatment."


Sources: News Atlas, Science Alert and Brain

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
SEP 16, 2020
Neuroscience
Blood Lipid Levels Predict Depression and Anxiety
SEP 16, 2020
Blood Lipid Levels Predict Depression and Anxiety
While people often experience anxiety and depression together, psychiatrists classify them as different disorders. And n ...
SEP 19, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Reward and Punishment Take Similar Paths in the Mouse Brain
SEP 19, 2020
Reward and Punishment Take Similar Paths in the Mouse Brain
Scientists have determined that mice have brain cells that can help them learn to avoid bad experiences.
OCT 22, 2020
Immunology
Migraines: Dark Times and (Pharmaceutical) Rays of Hope
OCT 22, 2020
Migraines: Dark Times and (Pharmaceutical) Rays of Hope
Despite being commonly used interchangeably, headaches and migraines are worlds apart. Migraines are by far much more pr ...
OCT 27, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
A Super Sensitive Alzheimer's Test Powered by Nanozymes
OCT 27, 2020
A Super Sensitive Alzheimer's Test Powered by Nanozymes
  Simple tasks are now uphill struggles, social situations aren’t fun, and the car keys are missing again. By ...
OCT 29, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Skin Deep: A Novel Test for Parkinson's
OCT 29, 2020
Skin Deep: A Novel Test for Parkinson's
In Parkinson’s disease (PD), there is chronic degeneration of the central nervous system, particularly in the regi ...
NOV 08, 2020
Neuroscience
New Way to Restore Fatty Myelin Sheaths on Nerve Cells
NOV 08, 2020
New Way to Restore Fatty Myelin Sheaths on Nerve Cells
Researchers from the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center in the US have discovered a new approach to restore myelin sheaths, ...
Loading Comments...