People with schizophrenia would have different brain function. Taking this parameter into consideration in their treatment would be more suitable.
Schizophrenia is a disease linked to a problem in the functioning of certain neuronal circuits, networks of nerve cells present in the brain. In most studies, scientists compare the brains of sick people with those of healthy people. This new research, conducted at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, focuses only on people with schizophrenia, highlighting the differences between patients. Their results were published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
Schizophrenia is linked to a disorder of brain maturation during adolescence. The symptoms are varied but can be grouped into three aspects: dissociation, when the person can no longer connect the ideas and has difficulty communicating clearly, hallucinations and symptoms called deficit, when the person withdraws , loses his intellectual and cognitive abilities.
Compare different types of schizophrenia
For this research, 179 people with schizophrenia were recruited. The researchers conducted tests to obtain information on the biomarkers of these individuals, which measure the symptoms of a mental illness. They asked them to emulate emotions with their faces because this task reflects the ability to interact socially, and at the same time, they performed MRIs of their brains.
Three patterns of the disease have been identified, related to neural circuits: typical, over-activated and deactivated. "We think that those who have over-activated networks are unproductive in terms of brain activity, they have to struggle and work harder to do certain tasks compared to others," says Colin Hawco, one of the authors of this study. On the contrary, it establishes quite another statement for the "disabled" group: "they seem to show a very efficient use of their brain, and have had better results on behavioral tests related to social processes".
Establish more effective treatments
Today, the different aspects of the disease remain little known, therefore the therapeutic management concerns only the symptoms. It still makes it possible to improve the daily life and the quality of life of the patients: a third of them know a durable remission.
"That's why we really invested in making brain networks of social behaviors a real track of treatment and research," says Dr. Anil Malhotra, co-author of the study. Thanks to their results, they hope to be able to develop new therapeutic solutions that will specifically target the neural circuits and which will be better adapted to each patient. In France, schizophrenia affects about 1% of the population, or 600,000 people.