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New findings out on brain networks in children at risk for mental disorders
Date:6/5/2014

DETROIT Attention deficits are central to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and are thought to precede the presentation of the illnesses. A new study led by Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher Vaibhav Diwadkar, Ph.D. suggests that the brain network interactions between regions that support attention are dysfunctional in children and adolescents at genetic risk for developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

"The brain network mechanisms that mediate these deficits are poorly understood, and have rarely been tackled using complex image analytic methods that focus on how brain regions communicate," said Diwadkar, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences and co-director of the department's Brain Imaging Research Division

The desire to understand dysfunctional brain mechanisms motivated Diwadkar and his team of colleagues and WSU medical students in the study titled, "Dysfunction and dysconnection in cortical-striatal networks during sustained attention: genetic risk for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and its impact on brain network function," featured in the May issue of Frontiers in Psychiatry.

The study is clinically significant because the estimated lifetime incidence of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in the groups studied is approximately 10-20 times what is generally observed. "We believe that genetic risk may confer vulnerability for dysfunctional brain network communication. This abnormal network communication in turn might amplify risk for psychiatric illnesses. By identifying markers of network dysfunction we believe we can elucidate these mechanisms of risk. This knowledge may in turn increase focus on possible premeditative intervention strategies," Diwadkar said.

The researchers identified dysfunctional brain mechanisms of sustained attention using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging data and complex modeling of fMRI signals. Dat
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Contact: Julie O'Connor
julie.oconnor@wayne.edu
313-577-8845
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
Source:Eurekalert

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