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Showing posts from October, 2012

It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up: reactivity in the developing brain and the emergence of schizophrenia

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In thinking about the causes of schizophrenia, a central question keeps coming up: why does the brain end up in that particular state? Despite a high degree of variability in presentation and difficulties in defining it precisely, there is a recognisable syndrome that we call schizophrenia. This has a number of characteristic attributes, most striking of which are psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and disorganised thoughts. These are truly, deeply strange phenomena that require an explanation: why do brain systems fail in that particular way? More to the point, why does that particular brain state emerge in so many people from so many different initial causes?
Because though we don’t know all the causes of this disorder, we know for sure that there are a lot of them. On the genetic front, a large number of distinct, rare mutations in different genes (or regions of the genome) are associated with a high risk for schizophrenia. Genome-wide association studies have imp…