Schizophrenia behavioral symptoms are linked to brain anatomy features, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine. Senior investigator, C. Robert Cloninger said, “By looking at the brain’s anatomy, we’ve shown there are distinct subgroups of patients with a schizophrenia diagnosis that correlates with symptoms. This gives us a new way of thinking about the disease. We know that not all patients with schizophrenia have the same issues, and this helps us understand why.”
Researchers used MRI scans and diffusion tensor imaging on 37 healthy volunteers and 47 schizophrenic patients. Abnormalities of the corpus callosum – fiber bundles that connect the left and right hemispheres of the brain for communication – were found in those with schizophrenia.
Further examination of the abnormalities revealed that they matched scans of specific schizophrenic symptoms. Some abnormalities were linked with hallucinations, while others were associated with disorganized behavior or disorganized thinking and speech.
Previous research revealed that schizophrenia is not simply one disease, but rather eight different diseases based on genetics and unique symptoms. The new findings further this notion, and future research should examine the role of genes and how each treatment can be tailored to an individual disease, based on which genes are in use.
Instructor at the university Igor Zwir, Ph.D. added, “We didn’t start with people who had certain symptoms and then look to see whether they had corresponding abnormalities in the brain. We just looked at the data, and these patterns began to emerge. This kind of granular information, combined with data about the genetics of schizophrenia, one day will help physicians treat the disorder in a more precise way.”
The findings were published in NeuroImage.