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

a were collected in 46 children and adolescents ages 8 to 20, half at genetic risk for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder by virtue of having one or both parents with either illness. During the 20-minute fMRI, participants completed a sustained attention task, adapted to engage specific brain regions.

The researchers induced variations in the degree of demand on these brain regions a method of assessing how genetic risk might impair the brain's ability to respond to attention challenges by varying task difficulty. Increased attention demand led to increased engagement in the typical control group. The genetically at-risk group did not respond the same. Instead, interactions between the dorsal anterior cingulate, a principal control region in the brain, and the basal ganglia were highly dysfunctional in that group, suggesting impaired communication between specific brain networks.

The study indicates that brain networks supporting basic psychological functions such as attention do not communicate appropriately in young individuals at genetic risk for illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

"Genetics and neurodevelopment are inextricably linked. How psychiatric illnesses emerge from their combination is a central question in medicine. Analytic tools developed in the last few years offer the promise of answers at the level of how these processes impact brain network communication," Diwadkar said.


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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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