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Biology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Jan Holtz


Society has become increasingly aware of the frustrating and confusing disorders that can result when the brain loses control of its intricate mechanisms. One such disorder that continues to baffle experts is schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a serious thought disorder characterized by a broad spectrum of cognitive and emotional dysfunctions that disrupts a person's perception of the world into one of tormenting psychotic experience. Schizophrenia results from a variety of complex causes with each possibly contributing something to the disorder. A multifactorial threshold model explains causation by demonstrating that a sum of biological liabilities (genetics and prenatal developmental problems) may take a person over the threshold and into psychosis. Psychological stress can not be considered a direct cause, but it can serve as a bridge between a person being vulnerable to schizophrenia to actually manifesting the disorder. Once a person becomes schizophrenic, we can attribute the complex symptoms to a malfunctioning brain. With current neuroimaging techniques such as MRI and PET, we are expanding our knowledge of the complex neural circuits and integrated neurotransmitter systems involved in creating psychosis. However, many secrets remain unanswered in our quest to understand the disease and treat the individual.