Few diseases are stigmatized as much as schizophrenia, or other similar mental health illnesses. But things are looking up: according to new MRI research, brains afflicted with schizophrenia show an ability to identify and fight off the disease.
The study, entitled Dynamic cerebral reorganization in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia: a MRI-derived cortical thickness study, was published Thursday in the journal Psychological Medicine.
The study, led by researchers from Lawson Health Research Institute, used MRI to look at the brains of 98 schizophrenic patients, and 83 control subjects. The researchers were particularly
interested in looking at the varying thicknesses of the cortical grey matter. “Robust changes in grey matter are observed using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with schizophrenia both before and after the onset of psychosis, and are linked to the clinical features of the illness,” said Lena Palaniyappan, a lead author of the study. “Rather controversially, these neuroanatomical changes have been argued to be progressive in nature, indicating a deteriorating pathophysiological process.”
However, the study has found that the brain attempts to rectify the changes schizophrenia has imposed upon it: “Our results highlight that despite the severity of tissue damage, the brain of a patient with schizophrenia is constantly attempting to reorganize itself, possibly to rescue itself or limit the damage,” Palaniyappan said.
The study contradicts a long-held notion that schizophrenia is an exclusively degenerative illness.