Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder linked with ‘emptier brains’

January 17th, 2009 - 1:46 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 17 (IANS) Adolescents who experience the first outbreak of psychosis have less grey matter than healthy teenagers, a new study says. This change was noted in patients suffering from various psychoses, including bipolar illness and schizophrenia, according to the study led by Gregorio Maranon University Hospital, Madrid and Network of Centres for Biomedical Research in Mental Health Networks (CIBERSAM).

The study aimed to examine and locate differences in the volume of grey matter in healthy brains (controls) and those diagnosed with psychotic outbreaks in infancy or adolescence.

The researchers broke such psychosis down into three sub-groups schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other psychoses that did not fit into either of the other two classifications.

The study analysed a sample of 121 people aged between 7 and 18. All the patients and controls were examined using magnetic resonance imaging in order to detect any possible changes in the structure of their brains.

“The interesting thing was that we found common alterations among those with two types of clinically-differentiated psychoses, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and this could help to improve diagnosis of these illnesses,” said Santiago Reig, co-author and imaging researcher at the Gregorio Hospital.

The study confirmed these lower levels of grey matter, the brain substance in which neurone cells are concentrated. This lack, which was shared between the schizophrenia and type one bipolar illness sufferers, means the functions of this part of the brain are “somehow atrophied,” said Reig.

In addition, the technique used by the experts can pinpoint the location of these alterations, said a Gregorio release.

These findings were published recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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