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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Can brain size play a key role in mental disorders?

Psychosis has troubled psychiatrists much before the age of Sigmund Freud but now a group of scientists at the Beth Israel hospital in Boston have found a link between the size of the brain and the probability of psychosis

News Desk |

Scientists suspect that variations in the structure of the choroid plexus, which produces cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), could play a key role in psychosis.

What is psychosis? 

Psychosis is a major subject in psychiatry. It’s a delusion state in which one loses contact with reality. But strictly speaking, it is a symptom, not an illness. A mental or physical illness, substance abuse, or extreme stress or trauma can cause it.

When one has delusions, it means you hold on to untrue or strange beliefs. You might also have hallucinations. That’s when you imagine you hear or see something that doesn’t exist.

Psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, are mental illnesses that involve psychosis that usually happens for the first time in the late teen years or early adulthood. Young people are especially vulnerable for reasons doctors don’t fully understand. Even before the first episode psychosis (FEP), they may also show subtle signs of behavioral changes. This is called the prodromal period and could last days, weeks, months.or even years.

Choroid Plexus and Psychosis:

Now a team lead by Dr. Paulo Lizano of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, has conducted investigations that indicates that size of choroid plexus matters. Their research has found that there could be a link between the size of choroid plexus and the development of psychosis.

The choroid plexus and its product, CSF, are crucial parts of the neurological system. CSF helps cushion the brain within the skull, and the choroid plexus forms a barrier between the brain and the CFS, which helps filter out toxins and keeps blood components from entering the brain.

It also allows some molecules to pass through, including those involved with the immune system.

This study which now appears in the American Journal of Psychiatry involved three groups of people: participants with a diagnosis of psychosis, one of their first degree relatives, and people with no history of psychosis (the controls).

Each participant underwent a structural MRI brain scan, and the researchers found that the volume of the choroid plexus was larger in those who had psychosis.

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They also found that the volume of the choroid plexus among first degree relatives was larger than that of the controls but smaller than that of those with psychosis.

However, these were not the only significant findings from the group with psychosis.

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The researchers also found that larger choroid plexus volume correlated with reduced gray matter, smaller amygdala volume, lower cognitive scores, larger ventricle volume, and lower levels of neural connectivity.

Although they cannot yet say with certainty, the researchers believe that these findings could also offer clues as to the pathology of psychosis.