Study Examines Potentials in Schizophrenia Treatments

As it can be a debilitating disease, scientists continue to research schizophrenia in the hopes of finding a cure or at least preventative measures to use in treatment. According to a recent Science Daily piece, researchers at UC Davis have found evidence that deficits in a brain chemical may be responsible for some of the debilitating cognitive deficits that accompany this disorder.

The study suggests that an important avenue of inquiry for improving cognitive function in those that suffer from this disorder is important, according to Jong H. Yoon, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UD Davis. Yoon was also the lead author on this study.

“We still know very little about the neurobiology of schizophrenia, particularly at the level of specific circuits and molecules and how their impairments affect behavior and cognition in the disease,” said Yoon. “We need this level of specificity to guide targeted treatment development.”

Abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality are the norm for those suffering with schizophrenia. These individuals may experience visual or auditory hallucinations, as well as paranoia, delusions and disorganized speech and thinking. At the same time, these individuals also experience profound cognitive difficulties that interfere with daily functioning.

“People think of schizophrenia as being related to psychosis. But patients’ cognitive limitations can be even more debilitating for them,” said Cameron Carter, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, director of the Imaging Research Center and the study’s senior author.

“This study actually looked at brain chemistry in live patients in relation to cognitive performance to determine the underlying neurobiology of the cognitive deficits. Our ultimate goal is discovering ways to help patients lead more productive lives.”

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