Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Brain Structure Linked to Hallucinations

That is the title of this article I am reviewing today. "Scientists have uncovered differences in the brains of people with schizophrenia who do and do not have hallucinations. Dr. Jon Simons and colleagues at Cambridge University, UK, looked at structural MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans of 153 individual brains: 113 scans were from people with schizophrenia and 40 from similar participants without schizophrenia. Among the schizophrenia patients, 78 had a history of hallucinations and 34 did not. The team measured the length of the paracingulate sulcus (PCS), a fold toward the front of the brain, in each scan. This indicated a link between length of the PCS and the tendency to hallucinate. On average, the patients suffering hallucinations had a PCS that was about two centimeters shorter than those without hallucinations, and three centimeters shorter than the non-schizophrenic group. This suggests that a one centimeter reduction in the fold’s length is linked to a 20 percent rise in the chance of hallucinations. The association applied to both auditory and visual hallucinations. Dr. Simons explained that the team selected patients to put into each group such that those two groups were as directly comparable as possible. Factors such as age, sex, medication and even whether participants were left- or right-handed were all taken into account. 'So as close as we can get it,' Dr. Simons said, 'the only difference between those two groups is that one group experiences hallucinations and the other one doesn’t.' The team says this is consistent with an explanation based on “reality monitoring.” The PCS is thought to play a role in distinguishing self-generated information from that perceived in the outside world. Details are published in the journal Nature Communications. In scans of healthy people, Dr. Simons has previously found that variation in the length of the PCS was linked to reality monitoring. He says, 'Schizophrenia is a complex spectrum of conditions that is associated with many differences throughout the brain, so it can be difficult to make specific links between brain areas and the symptoms that are often observed.'" I heard voices I think after I was at the state hospital.  I had been left crazy since I was locked up because the psychiatrist did not  like me and would not help me.  I am not very sure if I heard voices or not.
The article goes on to say: "'By comparing brain structure in a large number of people diagnosed with schizophrenia with and without the experience of hallucinations, we have been able to identify a particular brain region that seems to be associated with a key symptom of the disorder.' Changes in other areas of the brain are likely also important in generating the complex phenomena of hallucinations, he adds. If further work shows that the difference can be detected before the onset of symptoms, it might be possible to offer extra support to people who face that elevated risk.
But hallucinations are just one of the main symptoms of schizophrenia, and patients are diagnosed on the basis of other irregular thought processes. Researcher Dr. Jane Garrison says the PCS is one of the last structural folds to develop in the brain before birth, and varies in size between individuals.
She adds, 'We think that the PCS is involved in brain networks that help us recognize information that has been generated ourselves. People with a shorter PCS seem less able to distinguish the origin of such information, and appear more likely to experience it as having been generated externally.
'Hallucinations are very complex phenomena that are a hallmark of mental illness and, in different forms, are also quite common across the general population. There is likely to be more than one explanation for why they arise, but this finding seems to help explain why some people experience things that are not actually real.'" I have never experienced nothing that is not real.  It would be hard for people that did not to know that what you are hearing or visualizing is not real.
The article ends with: "The team concludes that, 'To be able to pin such a key symptom to a relatively specific part of the brain is quite unusual.' Commenting on the work, Professor Stephen Lawrie of the University of Edinburgh, UK, states, 'There’s quite a strong literature showing that auditory hallucinations are related to dysfunction or structural disruption in language areas of the brain. 'I think the value of this is that it probably helps us think slightly more broadly about hallucinations in schizophrenia, in terms of it not just being about language areas of the brain, but involving a more distributed network of regions, and implicating, in particular, cognitive control or higher-order cognitive functioning.' Professor Lawrie has also studied brain structure in relation to schizophrenia and hallucinations. He says the form and content of hallucinations can vary considerably between patients and believes that different brain changes may reflect these different processes. His work has found indications for a role for the lateral temporal cortex in hallucinations. This type of investigation 'may have relevance for the understanding of the biological basis of the disorder,' he concludes.'" It does have relevance for people that have theses problems when they have this disorder to understand what happened to them.  I do wish that I would like to know why this happened to me and why at that age besides the stress I was going through the first time and second time it happened.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Lactose Intolerance May Shed Light On How Schizophrenia Develops

That is the title of the article I  am reviewing. "Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Canada have been studying the genetic underpinnings of lactose intolerance in order to gain a better understanding of the origins of certain severe mental disorders, such as schizophrenia. Although lactose intolerance and schizophrenia appear to have very little in common, the researchers explain two major similarities: First, both conditions are passed down genetically. And secondly, their symptoms never emerge during the first year of life, and in most cases, don’t appear until decades later. This slow development can be explained by a combination of genetics and epigenetics –factors that turn genes on or off, say the researchers. By studying the basic principles behind lactose intolerance, they can then be applied to the study of more complex mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or Alzheimer’s disease. All of these conditions feature DNA risk factors but take decades before clinical symptoms develop, said senior author Dr. Arturas Petronis, head of the Krembil Family Epigenetics Laboratory in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH." The genes can be turned on or off.  That would explain why I received this disease when I was twenty seven.  It still was a shock for me and my friends everything was going great then all of sudden boom schizophrenia.
The article goes on to say: "More than 65 percent of adults worldwide are lactose intolerant, meaning they cannot process the milk sugar lactose. Lactose intolerance is influenced by a single gene, which determines whether an individual will lose the ability to process lactose over time. People with variants of this gene will gradually produce less lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, as they age. 'The question we asked is why does this change happen over time? All newborns are able to digest lactose, independently from their genetic variation,' said Petronis. 'Now, we know that epigenetic factors accumulate at a very different pace in each person, depending on the genetic variants of the lactase gene.' Over time, these epigenetic changes build up and inactivate the lactase gene in some, but not all, individuals. At this point, people with the inactivated lactase gene would start noticing new symptoms of lactose intolerance.'" It is something like schizophrenia different people get it at different times in their life. Except they produce less lactase and in schizophrenia the gene is turned on to give you schizophrenia.
The article ends with: " Mental illnesses are far more complex than lactose intolerance and are linked to many more genes with their epigenetic surroundings. Even so, the same molecular mechanisms may account for the delayed age of onset of illnesses, such as schizophrenia, in early adulthood, Petronis said. The combination of genes and epigenetic factors that build up over time with age, provide a likely avenue to investigate in illnesses such as schizophrenia. 'We came up with interesting hypotheses, and possibly insights, into risk factors for brain disease by studying aging intestines,' says Petronis. Exploring the epigenetic control of the lactase gene involved a collaborative effort of CAMH, University of Toronto, the Hospital for Sick Children, Vilnius University, and the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences.'" What does aging intestines have to do with they should say is that just for lactose intolerance?  I sure would like an answer to that question. Maybe even more study is needed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Marker for Poor Memory in Schizophrenia Patients Identified

That is the title of this article I am reviewing. "Possible key to understanding and treating cognitive symptoms of the disease.
A new study has identified a pattern of brain activity that may be a sign of memory problems in people with schizophrenia. The biomarker, which the researchers believe may be the first of its kind, is an important step toward understanding and treating one of the most devastating symptoms of schizophrenia. The study, led by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), was published today in the journal Biological Psychiatry. While schizophrenia typically causes hallucinations and delusions, many people with the disorder also have cognitive deficits, including problems with short- and long-term memory.
'Of all the symptoms linked to schizophrenia, memory issues may have the greatest impact on quality of life, as they can make it difficult to hold down a job and maintain social relationships,' said first author Jared X. Van Snellenberg, PhD, assistant professor of clinical psychology (in psychiatry) at CUMC and research scientist in the division of translational imaging at NYSPI. 'Unfortunately, we know very little about the cause of these memory problems and have no way to treat them.'" I know memory is a problem for a lot of people with schizophrenia.  I have a good memory for numbers I can remember them.  Before this disease I did not have  a phone book all the numbers were in my head.  I did not lose that.  Although when I was in college studying math with my tutor he would he gets it but as soon as he walks out the door he does not remember a thing.
The article goes on to say: "Researchers have long hypothesized that memory problems in schizophrenia stem from disruptions in the brain’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). This area of the brain plays a key role in working memory–the system for temporarily storing and managing information required to carry out complex cognitive tasks. However, previous studies, which used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare DLPFC activation in healthy individuals and those with schizophrenia while taking memory tests, have not shown clear differences.
Dr. Van Snellenberg hypothesized that the studies failed to detect a difference because the memory tests did not have enough levels of difficulty. In 2014 he and his colleagues designed a computerized test that includes eight levels of increasingly difficulty in a single working memory task." When my old boss had me doing brain training games I would get better each day.  It is repetition that worked. I have to keep repeating things if I want to make sure I remember them.
The article ends: "In the current study, 45 healthy controls and 51 schizophrenia patients, including 21 who were not taking antipsychotic medications, were given the eight-level memory test while undergoing fMRI imaging. As expected, the healthy controls demonstrated a gradual increase in DLPFC activation, followed by a gradual decrease in activation as the task gets harder. But in both medicated and unmedicated schizophrenia patients, the overall response was significantly weaker, with the weakest response occurring in those who had the most difficulty with the memory task.
The researchers believe this may be the first time a brain signal in DLPFC has been directly linked to working memory performance in patients with schizophrenia. 'Our findings provide evidence that the DLPFC is compromised in patients with schizophrenia,' said Dr. Van Snellenberg. 'What they don’t tell us is why, which is something we ultimately hope to figure out. In the meantime, we now have a specific target for treatment, and a new way to measure whether a treatment is working.'" Hopefully they can figure it out so that people with schizophrenia can work and do college.  That was my only problem in college I had to read things at least twice if not more to do tests and such.  I made it through even though it took a while to complete college.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

New Schizophrenia Study Focuses on Protein-Protein Interactions

That is the title of this article I am reviewing. "Similar to people, a lot can be learned about a gene by looking at the company it keeps and watching how it behaves. In an effort to uncover more clues about the development of schizophrenia, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine explored how the proteins produced by schizophrenia-related genes interacted with one another. 'We can infer what the protein might do by checking out the company it keeps,' said senior investigator Madhavi Ganapathiraju, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical informatics, Pitt School of Medicine. 'For example, if I know you have many friends who play hockey, it could mean that you are involved in hockey, too. Similarly, if we see that an unknown protein interacts with multiple proteins involved in neural signaling, for example, there is a high likelihood that the unknown entity also is involved in the same.'"  I wonder what they will find if they stick together as friends. There is so much going on in the brain they have new studies all the time for different things.
The article goes on to say: "In recent history, scientists have conducted many genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that have successfully identified gene variants tied to an increased risk for schizophrenia. However, relatively little is known about the proteins that these genes make, what they do and how they interact, say the researchers. 'GWAS studies and other research efforts have shown us what genes might be relevant in schizophrenia,' said Ganapathiraju. 'What we have done is the next step. We are trying to understand how these genes relate to each other, which could show us the biological pathways that are important in the disease.' In a nutshell, each gene makes proteins, and these proteins typically interact with each other in a biological process. Studying how these proteins behave with one another can shed light on the role of a gene that has not yet been studied, revealing pathways and biological processes associated with schizophrenia as well as its relation to other complex diseases.'" They are not only studying schizophrenia but other diseases as well. This is something new they are studying that might help a lot of diseases.
The article ends: "After developing and using a new computational model, called High-Precision Protein Interaction Prediction (HiPPIP), the researchers discovered more than 500 new protein-protein interactions (PPIs) associated with genes linked to schizophrenia. The researchers add that while schizophrenia-linked genes identified historically and through GWAS had little overlap, the model showed they shared more than 100 common interactors. The findings could lead to greater understanding of the biological underpinnings of this mental illness, as well as point the way to treatments." All these studies and we are no closer to new medications that do not have side effects.  They write about these studies but we here no more after that.