So, what causes Schizophrenia?
The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown,
however, research has found that people with schizophrenia have significant degenerative
brain abnormalities. Four consistent
changes in the brain have been uncovered using brain studies.
The frontal lobe is primarily responsible for activities like attention span,
organization, working memory and behavior control.
In people with schizophrenia, the frontal lobe doesn’t get as much blood
flow, impacting function. This leads to the symptoms of apathy, lack of motivation,
poor impulse control, poor judgment and difficulty paying attention.
The temporal lobe is responsible for processing hearing, smelling, understanding
speech, visual recognition and integrates everything needed to write.
In people with schizophrenia, the outer layer (called the cortex)
thins and the blood flow is higher than normal.
Presumably this thinning and increased blood flow leads to auditory hallucinations
or illusions (seeing something in the environment that isn’t really there). The hippocampus, a structure
responsible for linking memories and emotions together, is smaller than normal. Memories or the feelings associated
with them are often lost. In addition,
a person with schizophrenia experiences generalized decreases in gray brain matter
and enlarged lateral and third ventricles with widened sulci (these are the grooves
on the surface of the brain). These
growing gaps in brain matter leads to delays and misinterpretation in the processing
of sensory information, contributing to hallucinations, delusions, and/or illusions.
In addition to brain structure abnormalities, the neurochemicals are different too. Dopamine, involved in memory,
concentration and controlling emotions is higher than normal.
The excess dopamine causes bizarre behaviors and beliefs.
There is some current research that has implicated serotonin in the condition
as well, although the exact impact is not yet clear.