Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Working to loosen the grip of severe mental illness

Date:
July 10, 2014
Source:
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Summary:
The underlying brain architecture of a person at rest is basically the same as that of a person performing a variety of tasks, a researcher has found. This is important to the study of mental illness, he says, because it is easier to analyze a brain at rest. "We can now observe people relaxing in the scanner and be confident that what we see is there all the time," says the lead researcher, who feared that the study might find that the brain reorganizes itself for every task.

A neuroscientist at Rutgers University-Newark says the human brain operates much the same whether active or at rest -- a finding that could provide a better understanding of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other serious mental health conditions that afflict an estimated 13.6 million Americans.

Related Articles


In newly published research in the journal Neuron, Michael Cole, an assistant professor at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, determined that the underlying brain architecture of a person at rest is basically the same as that of a person performing a variety of tasks.

This is important to the study of mental illness, says Cole, who made the discovery using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), because it is easier to analyze a brain at rest.

"We can now observe people relaxing in the scanner and be confident that what we see is there all the time," says Cole, who feared that his team might find that the brain reorganizes itself for every task. "If that had been the case, we would have had less hope that we could understand mental illness in our lifetime."

Instead, Cole says, scientists can now make their search for causes of mental illness more focused -- and he suggests at least one target of opportunity. The prefrontal cortex is a portion of the brain involved in high level thinking, as well as remembering what a person's goal is and the task being performed.

Cole says it would be useful to explore whether connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain is altered -- while the brain is at rest -- in people with severe mental illness. "And then we can finally say something fundamental," he predicts, "about what's different about the brain's functional network in schizophrenia and other conditions."

Those differences, in turn, could explain certain symptoms. For instance, what if a patient has visual hallucinations because poor connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and the portion of the brain that governs sight causes the hallucinations to override what the eyes actually see? Cole suggests that's just one of the questions that analysis of the brain at rest might help to answer. Others include a person's debilitating beliefs, such as overly negative self-assessment when depressed.

Opportunities to find better ways to improve patients' lives might then follow. Cole notes that current medications for severe mental illness, when they help at all, typically do not relieve cognitive symptoms. It is possible the drugs will reduce hallucinations or depressing thoughts, but patients continue to have difficulty concentrating on the task at hand, and often find it hard to find or hold a job. Cole says that even solving that one issue would be a major step forward -- and he hopes his new work has helped advance science toward achieving this goal.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael W. Cole, Danielle S. Bassett, Jonathan D. Power, Todd S. Braver, Steven E. Petersen. Intrinsic and Task-Evoked Network Architectures of the Human Brain. Neuron, 2014; 83 (1): 238 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.05.014

Cite This Page:

Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. "Working to loosen the grip of severe mental illness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710094348.htm>.
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. (2014, July 10). Working to loosen the grip of severe mental illness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710094348.htm
Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. "Working to loosen the grip of severe mental illness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710094348.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
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:  

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:  

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