Schizophrenia affects only about 1% of the US population. The condition is typified by confused thoughts and speech, delusions and hallucinations. Symptoms start off gradual and become more severe over time.
Experts predict we will find a cure for schizophrenia in about 10 years. As a result of our growing understanding, neuroscientists suspect that they also know why it developed in the first place. Those who suffer from it may be paying the price for humankind’s advanced cognitive capabilities.
A new Australian study lends credence to this view. Scientists found a specific genetic pathway comprised of 97 genes, linked to genetic changes in the brain region associated with schizophrenia. This supports the theory that the psychiatric condition may be an unwanted side effect of our brain’s evolution.
In this most recent study, researchers’ examined the brains of 15 people (postmortem) who had schizophrenia and 15 who didn’t. Scientists have speculated for decades that quick evolutionary changes in the frontal pole of the brain, may have helped us evolve greater intellectual capacity, as a result of alterations in the brain’s metabolism.
[co-author Brain Dean said] “There is the argument that schizophrenia is an unwanted side effect of developing a complex human brain and our findings seem to support that argument.”
Editor’s note: Read the full study
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