New hope for people with schizophrenia

Friday, 29 July 2011, 09:53 Hrs
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Washington: Scientists claim to have found the clue to the onset of schizophrenia, a major finding that may pave the way for effective therapies for the lifelong and chronic disease currently without a cure.

An international team, led by the University of New South Wales, has identified the neural mechanism that hinders reward identification and decision-making in people suffering from schizophrenia, ''Molecular Psychiatry'' journal reported.

The scientists say that the findings could someday pave the way for an effective drug therapy to help people with the disease manage their daily lives.

The study, led by Dr Thomas Weickert, in fact, found that an area deep in the brain, called the ventral striatum, which usually lights up with activity in response to rewards in healthy adults, was relatively unresponsive in people suffering from schizophrenia.

Specifically, the study showed that people with schizophrenia were unable to distinguish between expected and unexpected rewards, frustrating their efforts to deal with unpredictability in daily life and making it difficult for them to make decisions in their own best interests.

Reward responses are important in many areas of learning because they help us to redirect attention and behaviour towards things that are beneficial to us, Dr Weickert said.

The ventral striatum is connected to other parts of the brain that are important in decision making, planning and cognition and is, consequently, attracting increasing interest from researchers.
Source: PTI
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