Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Schizophrenia: It’s in the wiring of the brain

Date:
September 16, 2013
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
Just as wires must be insulated to effectively carry electrical impulses, nerve cells must be insulated by myelin to effectively transmit neural impulses. Using typical magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, one can visually distinguish parts of the brain that look white and parts that look gray. A new study has used two types of brain imaging to characterize abnormalities in the white matter in schizophrenia patients.

Representative axial images depicting the location of our 1󫢫 cm white matter voxel in the right prefrontal cortex.
Credit: Society of Biological Psychiatry

Just as wires must be insulated to effectively carry electrical impulses, nerve cells must be insulated by myelin to effectively transmit neural impulses. Using typical magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, one can visually distinguish parts of the brain that look white and parts that look gray. Myelin is most prevalent in the white matter because this component of the brain tissue is principally comprised by the nerve cell projections (axons) that are covered by myelin and that transmit information from one part of the brain to another.

In a new paper in Biological Psychiatry, Fei Du and colleagues at Harvard Medical School combined two types of brain imaging to characterize abnormalities in the white matter in schizophrenia.

One type of imaging, called magnetic resonance spectroscopy, measures the levels of particular chemicals in the brain. Another approach, called magnetization transfer imaging, is sensitive to changes in the level of myelin in the white matter.

"The notion that the brain in schizophrenia is characterized by abnormalities in connections between distant brain regions is not new, and imaging studies using diffusion tensor imaging have long suggested that the white matter where these connections travel is abnormal in this condition," explained senior author Dr. Dost 謓g黵. "However, we have not had the tools to determine whether the abnormalities are in axons, or the myelin sheath around the axons, or both."

The researchers found evidence for abnormalities in both myelin and axons among patients with schizophrenia, when compared with healthy individuals who underwent the same testing. More specifically, they found reduced myelination of white matter pathways in schizophrenia, and also abnormal diffusion of N-acetylaspartate, a metabolite thought to be predominately localized within nerve cells.

This pattern of results is indicative of abnormalities in information processing and cognitive deficits, which is consistent with what scientists already know about how the brain is impacted by schizophrenia and the symptoms associated with this disorder.

"This study provides new evidence that myelination abnormalities in schizophrenia are associated with disturbances in the functional integrity of the white matter. As the white matter carries long range communication in the brain, the current findings raise new questions about the functional impact and treatment for these neural deficits," said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

These findings are important because they suggest that "the white matter abnormalities in schizophrenia are complex and interconnected," added 謓g黵. "A strategy to impact both axonal health and myelin synthesis may be needed to restore normal white matter functioning in this condition."

Such a strategy to restore abnormal functioning is not likely in the near future, but advances provided by this study and others like it help bring scientists ever closer to that ultimate goal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Fei Du, Alissa J. Cooper, Thida Thida, Ann K. Shinn, Bruce M. Cohen, Dost 謓g黵. Myelin and Axon Abnormalities in Schizophrenia Measured with Magnetic Resonance Imaging Techniques. Biological Psychiatry, 2013; 74 (6): 451 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.03.003

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Schizophrenia: It’s in the wiring of the brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916091025.htm>.
Elsevier. (2013, September 16). Schizophrenia: It’s in the wiring of the brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916091025.htm
Elsevier. "Schizophrenia: It’s in the wiring of the brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916091025.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:牋

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:牋

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins