Schizophrenia, characterised by hallucinations, irrational thoughts, and changes in behaviour, is a debilitating mental illness raising more questions than modern medicine has answers. But now University of Pennsylvania Medical School researchers have made a potentially groundbreaking discovery.
For the first time ever, two distinct neuroanatomical variations of schizophrenia have been identified.
At least a third of patients we looked at ... their brains were almost completely normal
Dr Christos Davatzikos
Researchers analysed the brain scans of more than 300 schizophrenia patients in the study.
The first variation shows lower volumes of grey matter in comparison to a healthy brain, while the second variation has largely the same levels.
Experts believe these findings may revolutionise mankind’s understanding of schizophrenia, as well as identifying potential treatment methods.
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Mental health: Researchers have discovered two distinct variations of schizophrenia (Image: Getty)
Mental health: Experts believe these findings may revolutionise mankind’s understanding of schizophrenia (Image: Getty)
The clinical study revealed 60 percent of patients with schizophrenia had decreased grey matter volumes throughout the brain compared to healthy people, considered the typical pattern seen in those with this disorder.
Dr Christos Davatzikos, the study’s principal investigator said: “Numerous other studies have shown people with schizophrenia have significantly smaller volumes of brain tissue than healthy controls.
“However, for at least a third of patients we looked at, this was not the case at all — their brains were almost completely normal.
“In the future, we’re not going to be saying, ‘this patient has schizophrenia,’ we’re going to be saying, ‘This patient has this subtype’ or ‘this abnormal pattern,’ rather than having a wide umbrella under which everyone is categorised.”
Mental health: Schizophrenia is characterised by hallucinations (Image: Getty)
Schizophrenia continues to puzzle experts, with previous attempts studying its impact on the brain centred on comparing healthy brains with scans performed on patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.
However, this research indicates why this approach has not proved effective.
Dr Davatzikos’s research for this study harvested data from the