Brain’s white matter may help predict schizophrenia development

June 23rd, 2009 - 12:54 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 23 (ANI): Researchers in the U.S. have found that white matter in the brain may help predict schizophrenia development.

Schizophrenia is a chronic and debilitating disorder marked in part by auditory hallucinations and paranoia.

Researchers focused on the brain’s white matter - which forms the major connections between different brain regions - because it is known that white matter is disrupted in people who already have schizophrenia.

In the study, researchers used diffusion tensor imaging — a form of brain imaging that detects movement of water molecules along white matter tracts — to map brain pathways.

“We found that healthy subjects showed a normal and expected increase in measures indexing white matter integrity in the temporal lobe as they age, but young people at high-risk for psychosis showed no such increase — that is, they fail to show the normal developmental pattern,” lead author Katherine Karlsgodt of the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement.

Over a two-year period, Karlsgodt and colleagues conducted clinical and functional assessments for a control group of 25 healthy people and 36 teens and young adults ages 12 to 26.

The younger subjects were at very high risk for developing schizophrenia due to genetic factors such having a close relative with schizophrenia or showing early clinical symptoms.

Both groups underwent imaging.

The researchers found white matter integrity in the temporal lobe at the first appointment could predict the degree functionality would be affected in 15 months by schizophrenia.

The study has been reported in the online edition of the journal Biological Psychiatry. (ANI)

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