NeuRA Magazine #19

Schizophrenia research

IQ CHANGE RELATED TO BRAIN VOLUME

Understanding the difference in IQ before and after the onset of schizophrenia could lead to more tailored treatments down the line.

Cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, although they can differ from person to person, are one of the core symptoms of the disorder. Earlier work from Associate Professor Tom Weickert’s lab proposed an IQ-based classification system, centred on IQ trajectories from before illness to after illness onset that could identify three distinct subgroups of schizophrenia.

These three subgroups included those who had a large and significant IQ decrease from before to after illness onset (called the deteriorated group); those whose IQ did not appear to change after illness onset staying around or above average before and after illness onset (called the preserved group); and those who displayed consistently low IQ levels before and after illness onset (called the compromised group).

A new study from the Schizophrenia Lab, has built on their earlier classification work by establishing whether these different intellectual subgroups are associated with any structural changes in the brain. The group examined differences in brain volume and were able to confirm that the IQ-based classifications are related to underlying neurobiological differences, and that distinct brain regions may be differentially affected in each subgroup.

The study found that the deteriorated group could be further divided into two subsets – moderately and severely deteriorated subgroups. The severely deteriorated subgroup had significantly reduced brain volume in regions of the brain important for memory, social cognition, language and visual processing, which correspond to more severe negative symptoms (reduced emotions, motivation and social interactions) in comparison to the preserved group.

Our recent findings on cognitive IQ-based subgroups provides a strategy to aid in the prediction of how each subgroup would respond to novel therapies to improve cognition and functional abilities in people with schizophrenia.

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FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

The cold case of schizophrenia - broken wide open!

‘It is like they were miraculously healed!’’ Schizophrenia is diagnosed by clinical observation of behaviour and speech. This is why NeuRA researchers are working hard to understand the biological basis of the illness. Through hours of work and in collaboration with doctors and scientists here and around the world, NeuRA has made an amazing breakthrough. For the first time, researchers have discovered the presence of antibodies in the brains of people who lived with schizophrenia. Having found these antibodies, it has led NeuRA researchers to ask two questions. What are they doing there? What should we do about the antibodies– help or remove them? This is a key breakthrough. Imagine if we are treating schizophrenia all wrong! It is early days, but can you imagine the treatment implications if we’ve identified a new biological basis for the disease? It could completely change the way schizophrenia is managed, creating new treatments that will protect the brain. More than this, could we be on the verge of discovering a ‘curable’ form of schizophrenia? How you can help We are so grateful for your loyal support of schizophrenia research in Australia, and today I ask if you will consider a gift today. Or, to provide greater confidence, consider becoming a Discovery Partner by making a monthly commitment. We believe there is great potential to explore these findings. Will you help move today’s breakthrough into tomorrow’s cure? To read more about this breakthrough, click ‘read the full story’ below. You are also invited to read ‘Beth’s story’, whose sweet son Marcus lived with schizophrenia, by clicking here.
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