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Brain Change In “Schizophrenia” Not Genetic

A report at PsychCentral on a Dutch study indicates brain changes in people labeled “schizophrenia” are not the result of “bad” or defective genes. The heading this article carries is Brain Abnormalities in Schizophrenia Due to Disease, Not Genetics.

The brain differences found in people with schizophrenia are mainly the result of the disease itself or its treatment *, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors, according to a Dutch study.

* Emphasis added.

Theory had it that “schizophrenia” came in families, and therefore, unaffected family members should have brain “abnormalities”, too. The familial link was thought to be as much as 81 %. (How do they arrive at these figures? I dare say…wishful thinking.) The results of this research do not support that theory.

For the current study, Heleen Boos and a team from University Medical Center Utrecht performed structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) whole-brain scans on 155 patients with schizophrenia, 186 of their non-psychotic siblings, and 122 healthy controls (including 25 sibling pairs).

As I pointed out in a post a few days back these studies are notorious for not factoring in psychiatric drugs. As psychiatric drugs have not been factored in, it is just as reasonable to assume that the differences found in the patients brains were caused by treatment as it is to assume that they were caused by disease. The true cause, and the extent to which it is caused by one or the other, can only be ascertained through testing that does factor in psychiatric drugs.

Compared with healthy controls, participants with schizophrenia had strong reductions in total brain, gray matter, and white matter volumes, and significant increases in lateral and third ventricle volumes after taking into account age, gender, intracranial volume, and left or right handedness.

There was no difference found between the siblings and the healthy controls.

Cortical thinning, the very thing I blogged about in a recent post, and decreased gray matter, were found in the patients, and not in the siblings of patients or the healthy controls. I would say researchers need to start factoring in psychiatric drugs. If this damage is iatrogenic, factoring in psychiatric drugs would involve also having a group of patients that were treated without drugs, and comparing their brain scans with the brain scans of patients treated on drugs to determine that possibility.

Let me guess. Researchers are not prone to do so because of their fervent belief in “mental illness”, and because of their close financial ties to drug manufacturers?