Edit: I'm glad to hear that he learned of this discovery before his death this month .
 - http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/bioflash/2016/01/broa...
Then, if someone chooses to be under the influence of a drug that enables new pathways to form (pot, psychedelics etc), this "dark" network can potentially be reconnected. The emotional response to this connection (good or bad) strengthens this "bridge" connection, leaving it connected when the influence of the drug wears off. Now the person has a faulty pruned network as part of their normal day to day network. Crap.
The trick from here is to reinforce the normal network and ignore signals from the faulty network until the bridge path's significance subsides enough to not enter day to day functioning.
E.g., when I was in grad school for neuroscience, I attended a multimodal sensory symposium where I learned that huge numbers of neurons in primary sensory cortices (V1, A1, etc) responded to stimuli from other senses. E.g., 20% of your primary visual neurons fire when you get auditory stimuli.
One would assume, especially with the measurable loss in gray matter, that these networks are being destroyed and thus couldn't be reconnected even if stimulated to do so.
But perhaps pruning isn't such a binary process and it is these damaged -- but not destroyed -- networks which cause such severe dysfunction.
I'm excited and grateful to the brilliant minds which give hope to so many. A+, would science again.
Maybe that is in part what is happening anyway? Or is there evidence to show that the section of the brain becomes under-utilised. (no I didn't RTFA; will get right on it!)
Right. New neurons, axons, synapses, and more are constantly being generated in the brain (though, perhaps not under certain conditions).
It seems unlikely that any area of the brain would be unconnected, or at least, unconnected for very long.
"I found it easier than many to accept the epistemological notions of the world internal and external as dependent concepts enforced by ignorance and perceptual challenges."
"The Influence of Chronic Exposure to Antipsychotic Medications on Brain Size before and after Tissue Fixation: A Comparison of Haloperidol and Olanzapine in Macaque Monkeys"
This may be why there is an environmental component. If a potential schizophrenic with an overly-pruned filter is exposed to the idea that a magical god came to earth and sacrificed himself to give us eternal life, and if that idea is presented culturally as real, it may be impossible for the schizophrenic to filter that and place it in the DMZ of fantastical-but-culturally-prevalent notions that the rest of us use.
Imagine how disordered one's thinking might become if we had no ability to interpret the spew with "a grain of salt".
Schizophrenia is a real interesting mental disorder because it touches on so many other disorders (e.g. speech impediments like echolalia often seen in those on the autistic spectrum) and it's tendency to exhibit itself relatively late in life (early to mid 20s is very late for on-set as I understand it re: mental disorders).
The Post did a pretty good job conveying a complicated concept in an approachable manner to those who aren't in the field, but as always the primary source is useful, so here's the pre-print: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26814963
n.b. My father is in the field and I sent this to him when I saw the mention of Eric Lander (they worked together at Whitehead before Lander left to direct Broad). He regards Lander as highly as I regard DJB. Often the media blows things up, I'd imagine these findings are fairly major within their field, if only because it survived the peer-review process into Nature.
I think it is better to think of this aggressive pruning idea as a general loss of computational ability. You are correct that a lot of the brain spends energy rejecting hypothesis about the world, so less computational ability would inevitably lead to less filtering and more suspect beliefs.
I find this to be a terrifying thought. Just the idea that I have some code inside me that's marking synapses for removal, and then they get removed. Those are my memories!
But I'm very excited about this. I'm not a geneticist by any means, but I hope the answer is as simple as replacing this gene with CRISPR.
Or maybe your whole mind would be just random noise without such process.
Well, they fell out of scope.
The only reason the medication is used is because untreated psychosis is often catastrophic.
The argument is essentially that schizophrenia medications were originally developed as a chemical replacement for lobotomy, the newer versions ("atypical neuroleptics") only had to prove themselves no less safe than those original treatments, the drug companies skewed the research by giving patients one large dose of the old treatments versus several smaller doses spread out over time of the newer ones (meaning the new neuroleptics may have actually been less safe than the drugs developed for chemical lobotomy), and recovery rates are actually much, much higher for patients never treated with anti-psychotic medications. The argument claims the US actually has among the lowest schizophrenia recovery rates (~5% in the US vs ~45% for untreated patients who receive non-medicative care) due to the reliance on medication. (Some charts on that: . Better sources available through  and .)
IANA doctor or psychiatrist, simply summarizing the anti-medication position. Drug companies and many psychiatrists clearly argue they're necessary medications, and for the absolute worse cases they probably are, and you can certainly find a lot of people who claim they or their family members were "fixed" by medication (though it should be noted that, historically, the same arguments were made for lobotomy and electroshock therapy as well). Schizophrenia also affects people differently, being completely disabling for some and less so for others, which obviously complicates deciding when benefits from medication outweigh the risks.
Gottesman, I. I., and J. Shields. "Schizophrenia: geneticism and environmentalism." Human heredity 21.6 (1971): 517-522.
was controversial when it was published, because as Freudianism waned, there was still the supposition among most psychologists then living that parenting was the single biggest influence on the development of mental illness.
When a behavioral trait runs in families, the working assumption is that it is passed from parent to child, but the tricky issue to figure out is whether it is passed mostly by parenting practices (culturally) or by descent (genetically). Gottesman used to be almost alone among psychologists in proposing that the greater influence on development of schizophrenia is genetic, and it took many studies of twins and other close relatives and other study methodologies gradually to make genetic studies of schizophrenia the mainstream approach to research.
That said, there are known cases of identical (monozygotic) twins who are discordant for schizophrenia, so everyone who is active in research on schizophrenia agrees that environmental influences after birth of some kind matter in the development of schizophrenia in an individual patient. Moreover, "the risk to schizophrenia is influenced by quite a large number of common variants, each with a very small effect on risk. How large is not yet clear, but Purcell's analyses suggest that hundreds and more likely thousands of individual genes contribute to the liability to schizophrenia."
The current study, covered in many different popular press reports, indicates a likely gene locus for influence on one clinical finding found in many but not all cases of schizophrenia. Discordant identical twins make very clear that something else matters for the development of schizophrenia. To date, we are a long way from taking the recent genome analysis finding to a stage of testing out any kind of intervention in human patients. First we will have to be sure that the finding replicates in another human patient data set, and then characterize how often that finding occurs in schizophrenic patients, and how often it is missing in healthy controls. There will have to be careful work to find out if any treatment based on the new finding is both safe and effective. But it's a start, and finding out things like this is the research to support basic science research.
I've read that poorly timed infections can mess up the immune system, like getting mono as a teen, which then does long term slow acting damage to the brain.
I've also read speculation that maybe than an ancient pathogen was subsumed (?) by our cells and our DNA repair mechanisms are in a constant state of war keeping it at bay, maintaining the balance, which can also be knocked out of whack by an early infection.
My interest is that someone close to me is afflicted. I'm a complete plebe on this stuff. And without the proper background, my comprehension is low (ELI5). And I very much would like to know how to best help, care for my loved ones.
What's interesting about this work is simply the degree of difficulty finding QTLs for mental illness; it's not the only genetic factor, and not particularly strong, so the signal to noise is quite poor. It required assembling a high-quality data set to identify a locus.
It's good work, but nothing revolutionary. Once you can start to pin down the genetic factors, it can make future work easier, so it does bode well.
It can even may be used to study non-disorders ,i.e. how to help regular humans have more happiness , resilience, etc.
I expect to watch neuroscience nibble away at the territory now held by psychology, until (as Lewis Carroll wrote about the Cheshire Cat) there's nothing left but the smile.
Endless therapy is not recommended for anything, and certainly not for schizophrenia. There are recommended lifestyle interventions, but these are aimed to reduce or stop smoking, to control weight gain, to keep people out of hospital, or to help people gain and keep employment.
A therapy might be involved if a person is hearing voices, but isn't particularly bothered by them. In that situation it doesn't make much sense to medicate away those voices (because the medication has severe side effects) so the person might get a "therapy" that helps them cope with voices, and learn when and how to seek help if the voices become too much.
And yes, young scientific fields quickly disprove themselves, that's kinda the point of science. Hard sciences like physics and chemistry also had some very very flawed theories in their youth, like aethers, alchemy, etc. but have had a few hundred years to get past that.
I agree, but imagine this:
You have a children with a bad illness. Then some moron comes and accuses you of being the cause of the illness. Let's hope he is right, otherwise he deserves to burn in hell for the eternity. (Or whatever infinite penalty is compatible with your beliefs.)
Behavioral genetics is very real, but our irrational fear of ( studying genes == hitler ) is stunting the potential of social science across the board.
Yes, that's true, but in the name of accuracy, the Asperger's fiasco wasn't 70 years ago, it played out seven years ago, when the condition was finally abandoned after an epidemic of phony diagnoses (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/health/03asperger.html).
The Recovered Memory Therapy fiasco wasn't 70 years ago, it played out in the 1990s -- you remember, when virgins could claim to have been raped and be believed (http://arachnoid.com/trouble_with_psychology)?
The homosexual fiasco wasn't 70 years ago, it played out in the 1970s, when homosexuality was finally abandoned as a diagnosis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_psychology).
But in all these cases, the abandoned diagnoses can still be offered by mental health professionals, and some still are, simply because there isn't any science sufficiently persuasive to say "no" to anything psychiatrists and psychologists care to do.
> It's frustrating that you only make these comments about psychiatry - you don't pop up in geography threads to say "Wait, what? Does this mean geographers don't still believe in fixed immovable continents?".
Geologists don't have clinics. Geologists don't issue press releases telling us how sick we all are, and how desperately in need of talk therapy.
> A therapy might be involved if a person is hearing voices, but isn't particularly bothered by them.
My point is very simple -- the health resources directed toward psychiatry and psychology, for what are fact either nonexistent or biological ailments, are wasted, and would be better spent on real science. Thomas Insel's (director of the NIMH) proposed abandonment of the DSM was a good first step (http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-rats-of-n-i-m-h), but more needs to be done.
It may not fit nicely into your mental model of the world, but biology is extremely messy business. It appears that biological systems, although heirachical and modular are, unlike human engineering, highly interconnected across all the levels. Particularly: The health of the mind effects the health of the body and the health of the body effects the health of the mind. If you do not believe this you have not learnt enough, or like many, you have ideoligical issues with this reality.
For a good summary of the contemporary positions of the biological and environmental camps when it comes to the causes of schizophrenia I can't recommend this lecture highly enough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxVY2Vptfwg&feature=youtu.be
Long story short; both camps have valuable insights and a lot to learn from each other.
Schizophrenia is a classic case of a mental illness that isn't one, a condition that doesn't appear in people who don't have a specific genetic predisposition.
> It may not fit nicely into your mental model of the world, but biology is extremely messy business.
Yes, that's true, but according to the new finding this thread is about, biology is now able to (a) detect schizophrenia in people who lack symptoms, and (b) dismiss the possibility in those who show symptoms (for example by an actor trained to imitate the symptoms). The reason? Schizophrenia isn't a mental illness, it's a physical illness with mental symptoms.
Dustin Hoffman nailed autism in "Rain Man". If Mr. Hoffman appeared at a mental health clinic and performed his character, do you suppose he would be turned away by the psychiatrists as a fake? Now consider this alternative -- if there was a genetic test for autism (there isn't at the moment), do you suppose he would be turned away by the biologists?
> ... you have ideoligical [sic] issues with this reality.
Science isn't about ideology, it's about evidence.
And secondly, whether therapy does any good is a completely different question from what is causing schizophrenia - although here we are talking about triggering it rather than causing it.
I have a friend who came up with schizophrenia just when graduating from university, and it was indeed devastating. But the endless therapy helps him a bit.
Did he stereotype a entire profession--yes. If any profession has a lot of explaining, and hands on knees apologizing--it's Psychiatry, and Psychology.
Sometimes the truth hurts. Hacker news should be that place where the truth is exposed?
I'll stop, but if you don't question Psychiatry/Psychlogy after being fooled by the SSRI's, the addictive drugs, the endless office visits, and the horrid rates of therapy cures; you haven't been in the system, or you are very prone to placebo.
The latest research on schizophrenia is this; patients whom are not on long term medications have a better quality of life. Yes, it's a judgement call on the doctor, but why do I have a feeling, since the residency doesn't attract the best, and brightest anymore--little nuggets like this latest research is not passed along to these vunerable patients?
As Ricky would say to Lucy, "Psychiatry has a lot of explainin to doo?" As to Psychology, well at least they least can't prescribe.
Therapy is horribly difficult and can fall short for all sorts of reasons, ones out of anyone's control. It's helped me tremendously day-to-day, but my ultimate problems are pretty intractable.
> patients whom are not on long term medications have a better quality of life
Perhaps that their quality of life isn't so impaired is why they're not on medication? Such a short anecdote can be interpreted as suggesting anything.
Do you have some weird grudge against psychologists?
Of course, genetic testing and gene therapy may obviate the need for psychotherapy in some circumstances, but that's many years away.
Founder of psychiatry drove around in a lobotomobile for 40 years giving lobotomies to haunted people for $25 each.
(With an icepick) (Check the movie/wikipedia lobotomobile)
the treatments since then have gotten only slightly less barbaric, like being tied down for 20 hours a day, or drugged and locked away.
still none of their bullshit has worked. and 75 - 150,000,000 cases of mental illness today (if you add the un-reported cases estimate) aka 1/4 the population (maybe 1/2).
I wonder if we can eventually get there, though.
So what? That bigotry is a meme doesn't make it any less bigotry. He used gay as an insult, there is no excuse for that behavior period.
on children. on teenagers. on the old. and on the stupid.
to cure voices...
you dont know what your talking about guys.
were talking about elective surgeries, that people could not refuse, and testified later to the supreme court they were done without permission, and sometimes tortured or beaten if refusing the surgery.
Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists weld a frightening amount of power over the people who may not be aware of just how easy it is to be locked up for seeking any kind of help or therapy. At this point, I consider pretty much any contact with clinical psychs to be every bit as dangerous as talking to a cop without a lawyer.
Not to call you a liar, but quite simply I don't believe that. Having dealt with wanting to get someone committed against their will, I found it was all but impossible unless they're actively and obviously dangerous to themselves or others.
> Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists weld a frightening amount of power
They really don't. They can't just commit people because they talked to them and decided hey lock that guy up.
They're free to assess you however they want and then use that as an excuse. Who is going to argue with and stop them? The judge? Your lawyer? Someone else who lacks a medical degree and "psychiatric expertise"?
There are so many ways it can go wrong for you. Maybe they thought you said something you didn't. I was once accused of making suicidal statements that I never did - not even a matter of being misheard, but completely making up things that I had never said. Maybe you just seem twitchy or distracted or they think they see signs of some other symptom. Maybe they just decide to lie because they think they know best.
I'm not claiming that every psych is out to get you, just that you really roll the dice when you talk to an unknown one. Hence the comparison to dealing with police. From my own experiences and people I've known, it gets worse when you aren't involved of your own free will or aren't the one directly paying for your own treatment.
In your case, I'd be curious whether whichever working clinical psychiatrist that was assigned to this person also felt as strongly that they should be committed, and had similar lack of success doing so?
Some non-anecdotal evidence either way would be more convincing, but this is the impression I've gotten considering the uniformity of experiences I've observed. Only one person I can think of actually felt they were helped by and had a positive experience with a psychiatric institution, and that was through a college health service. The only paper I could find on it reports that "retrospectively, between 33% and 81% of patients regard the admission as justified and/or the treatment as beneficial," which is a uselessly broad range and could be used to conclude either way.
Again, I'm sorry you have gotten this impression. Both my parents are clinical psychologists; I can assure you that these cases are taken very seriously, and committing a patient is always a measure of last resort.