Scientists: Brains of schizophrenia patients try to repair themselves

Latest research results bring hope for people with schizophrenia
When people suffer from schizophrenia, a variety of characteristic disorders occur. These affect perception, thinking, our so-called ego functions, will, drive and psychomotor skills. Researchers have now found that the brains of patients with schizophrenia have the ability to reorganize themselves and fight the disease.

An international team led by Canadian scientists from the Lawson Health Research Institute and the Robarts Research Institutes at Western University recently found that the brains of people with schizophrenia can safely reorganize and repair themselves. This is the first evidence of our brain's ability to reverse the effects of schizophrenia. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Psychology Medicine".

Slight increase in brain tissue volume was observed
Schizophrenia is a disease that is generally associated with a widespread reduction in brain tissue volume. However, a recent study has now found that there is a subtle increase in tissue in certain brain regions. The investigation monitored 98 patients with schizophrenia, whose data were compared to 83 healthy volunteers, the doctors say. The research team used so-called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a sophisticated concept called covariance analysis to record the increase in brain tissue.

New findings could enable schizophrenia to be cured in the future
The new findings could enable a future cure for schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses, explains author Dr. Lena Palaniyappan from the Lawson Health Research Institute. Current treatment methods are only designed to alleviate the disease. A reversal of the cognitive and functional deficits has not been planned for the treatment, adds Dr. Palaniyappan added.

Brains of schizophrenia patients are constantly trying to reorganize themselves
There has been a longstanding belief that schizophrenia is a degenerative disease that sows a destructive seed, so to speak, very early in the development of the brain, the experts say. This later triggers damage to our brain. Despite the severity of the tissue damage suffered, the brain of a patient with schizophrenia is constantly trying to reorganize, the researchers explain. This may happen to save yourself or to reduce the damage already suffered, explains Dr. Palaniyappan.

The result is an enormous advance in the understanding of schizophrenia
Next, the research team will study the evolution of the reorganization process by performing repeated brain analyzes of individual patients with early schizophrenia. Then the effect of this reorganization on recovery should be assessed. Just 100 years ago, the disease was seen as a type of premature dementia that causes what appears to be a progressive deterioration in our brain's capabilities, the experts say.

Researchers and institutes involved in the study:
The new results could help our brain to use its own compensatory changes and thereby improve recovery, the doctors explain. The project is the result of international collaboration between scientists from the University of Nottingham (United Kingdom), Fudan University (Shanghai; People's Republic of China), Hunan Normal University (Changsha; People's Republic of China), Robarts Research Institutes at Western University and Lawson Health Research Institute. (as)

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