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Thursday, July 28, 2011

SCHIZOPHRENIA: Decision making area inactive in schizophrenic brains!

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IANS / The Hindu / SYDNEY, July 28, 2011.

A patient suffering from schizophrenia in a mental health institution in Georgia. A study has shown that schizophrenic patients cannot deal with life’s unpredictability or make sound decisions.
A patient suffering from schizophrenia in a mental health institution in Georgia. A study has shown that schizophrenic patients cannot deal with life’s unpredictability or make sound decisions - AP.

Scientists have identified a brain mechanism that derails decision—making in people suffering from schizophrenia - a mental disorder characterised by a breakdown of thought processes and emotional responsiveness, besides attacks of hallucinations and delusions.


The study, led by Thomas Weickert, psychiatrist at The University of New South Wales, found that a brain area called the ventral striatum, which lights up in response to rewards in healthy adults and is linked with decision making, was unresponsive among schizophrenics.
Specifically, the study showed that they were unable to distinguish between expected and unexpected rewards or deal with life’s unpredictability or make sound decisions, the journal Molecular Psychiatry reports.
“Using functional MRI images, we could see that this region of the brain wasn’t firing correctly. People with schizophrenia... have trouble taking cues from their environment and, consequently, can make some bad decisions,” Weickert said.
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, Weickert said, according to a New South Wales statement.

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