An experienced psychiatrist, Dr. Elliot Gruen currently practices in Maine. Dr. Elliot Gruen draws on experience with a range of psychiatric conditions, including an in-depth familiarity with schizophrenia and its development.
Schizophrenia is a complex mental illness that affects approximately 1 percent of the population. It causes abnormal activity in many different areas of the brain and has a particularly dramatic effect on higher-order function, such as speech processing and cognition. According to a recent study by the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health in Australia, these symptoms may reflect a disruption in the advanced evolution of the human brain.
The current study follows on prior findings that suggest a period of rapid evolution in the development of the human species. One investigation found that the metabolites and genes most rapidly changed during the evolutionary process are also those altered in patients with schizophrenia. A 2006 study found human accelerated regions (HAR’s) in the human genome, and a later team discovered that the genes controlled by those regions are linked to schizophrenia.
The Australian team, led by Professor Brian Dean, examined the brains of 15 individuals who had schizophrenia diagnoses and 15 who had no such history. They focused on messenger RNA (mRNA) in a frontal area of the brain, which controls the reasoning and planning traits connected with schizophrenia. The team found 566 genetic differences between the schizophrenia group and the control group, as well as a newly identified genetic pathway that involved interactions among 97 genes.
Medical science currently holds that schizophrenia develops when interactions with one’s environment trigger genetic changes in the brain. Prof. Dean and his team believe that further investigation of these particular pathways and genetic changes may help medical science to understand how schizophrenia arises.