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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Mental Health Channel
Reported March 21, 2013

Schizophrenia Linked to Brain Changes


(Ivanhoe Newswire) – The problems with memory and behavior schizophrenics face can put a strain on their daily activities. More still needs to be known about the illness, but a recent study is making some headway. Researchers discovered that changes in brain activity can be linked to the cognitive problems experienced by individuals with schizophrenia. 
To study the relationship between brain activity and cognitive problems associated with schizophrenia, researchers modified the brain activity of mice using a drug that decreased activity specifically in the mediodorsal thalamus region. This alteration made the mice’s brain activity similar to that of a human schizophrenic. 
After receiving the drug, the mice were given tasks involving levers and mazes to test their cognitive skills. It was observed that even a slight drop of activity in the mediodorsal thalamus caused altered connectivity between this brain region and the prefrontal cortex region, which are linked to cognitive problems such as those caused by schizophrenia. 
"Our findings further suggest that decreased thalamic activity interferes with cognition by disrupting communication between the thalamus and the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that has already been shown to be important for working memory," senior study author Dr. Christoph Kellendonk of Columbia University was quoted as saying. 
Now that researchers know that decreased brain activity in a particular region causes the cognitive problems and not the other way around, future treatment may be more focused on correcting the brain activity.
However, this study is just the start of research that could go on for years, but researchers are hopeful.
"One next step would be to examine this relationship in patients,” co-author Dr. Joshua Gordon from Columbia University was quoted as saying. 
Source: Neuron, March 2013 
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