“Certain brain regions in people with major depression are smaller and less dense than those of their healthy counterparts. Now, researchers have traced the genetic reasons for this shrinkage.
“Brain-imaging studies, post-mortem examinations of human brains and animal studies have all found that in depression, a part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex shrinks. The neurons in this region, which is responsible for complex tasks from memory and sensory integration to the planning of actions, are also smaller and less dense in depressed people compared with healthy people.”
‘How Depression Shrinks the Brain’
“Social isolation in youth may wreak havoc on the brain by disrupting a protein crucial to the development of the nervous system’s support cells, new research finds.
“A new study in mice finds that when the animals are isolated during a crucial early period, brain cells called oligodendrocytes fail to mature properly. Oligodendrocytes build the fatty, insulating sheathes that cushion neurons, and their dysfunction seems to cause long-lasting behavioural changes.
“Some of the myelination changes produced from isolation are also seen in patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, Corfas said, making the project promising for a number of neuropsychiatric disorders.”
‘Mystery of How Social Isolation Messes with Brain Solved’
“People prone to depression may struggle to organize information about guilt and blame in the brain, new neuroimaging research suggests.
“Crushing guilt is a common symptom of depression, an observation that dates back to Sigmund Freud. Now, a new study finds a communication breakdown between two guilt-associated brain regions in people who have had depression. This so-called “decoupling” of the regions may be why depressed people take small faux pas as evidence that they are complete failures.”
‘Why Some People Blame Themselves for Everything’
“Schizophrenia symptoms include memory and attention problems, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and behavior and delusions. Psychotic symptoms typically start in late adolescence and early adulthood. But researchers believe that developmental abnormalities they don’t yet know about also increase diabetes risk.
“One recent study – based on data from the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness Schizophrenia Trial – showed the prevalence rate of metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that include abdominal obesity, high lipid and cholesterol blood levels and insulin resistance, is more than 50 percent in women and about 37 percent in men with schizophrenia.”
‘Diabetes Linked to Schizophrenia’
“Although less severe, patients with bipolar disorder share many of the same cognitive difficulties as patients with schizophrenia — including problems with identifying facial expressions, emotions and facial gender, according to a new study.
“Past research has shown that people with schizophrenia have clear cognitive deficits with respect to emotional perception.”
‘Bipolar, Schizophrenia Share Similar Emotional Perception Difficulties
“…researchers collected blood samples from 34 people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and analyzed them to study their DNA. Each of the participants belonged to families with a history of mental illness. The scientists were focusing on seeking out people with a NPAS3 mutation, they ended up finding one and carried out a series of blood tests on members of that family, including two parents and four adult children.
“Results showed that the mother who has schizophrenia, as well as her two children with the same disorder and another suffering from depression, all shared the same mutant genetic variation of NPAS3. The mutated version of the gene had one single difference in that an isoleucine took the place of a valine. The authors are not yet sure how this change affects the function of the gene, though.”
‘Gene Associated With Schizophrenia Identified