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          Cerebellum the Little Brain Plays a Major Role in Schizophrenia

          51134725 - two-faced happy sad woman manic depression or schizophrenia concept

          A new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry demonstrated that cerebellum is among the most affected brain regions in schizophrenia. In patients with schizophrenia, the cerebellar volume was smaller in patients compared to healthy individuals. The study published was the largest brain imaging study to date on the cerebellum in schizophrenia, with important implications for our understanding of the disorder.

          The current study included brain scans from 2300 participants from 14 international sites. Researchers analyzed both the volume and shape of the brain, using sophisticated tools.


          Results from the study showed that the cerebellum is among the brain regions with the strongest and most consistent differences in schizophrenia. On a group level, patients had smaller cerebellar volumes compared with healthy individuals. Results from the meta-analysis of total cerebellar grey matter volume showed highly significant pooled effect size of − 0.35, indicating reduced total cerebellar grey matter volume in schizophrenia relative to healthy controls.  Cerebellar volume reductions in schizophrenia (SZ) consistent across the age range.

          Most mental disorders emerge during childhood and adolescence, and a better understanding of the causes may give better patient care. According to researchers, treatments should be developed to reverse or even prevent the disease to understand why some people are at risk of developing these serious illnesses in the first place. The large sets of data allowed the researchers to identify very nuanced differences in brain volume in patients when compared with healthy controls.

          In summary, our results provide strong evidence for cerebellar structural abnormalities in SZ, primarily in regions associated with advanced cognitive functions. Strong relationship between cerebellar volume and cerebral cortical thickness was noted in patients suggestive of common underlying disease processes. To conclude, results demonstrated that cerebellar volume reductions are present already at disease onset, thus highlighting the need for future studies on cerebellocerebral structural networks in developmental and high-risk samples.

          Source: Moberget T, Doan NT, Alnæs D, et al. Cerebellar volume and cerebellocerebral structural covariance in schizophrenia: a multisite mega-analysis of 983 patients and 1349 healthy controls. Mol Psychiatry. 2017May 16. doi: 10.1038/mp.2017.106.

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