"Stolen Lives, Stolen Minds"
There was this PBS video that I interviewed him for and did a
lot of work with "Stolen Lives, Stolen Minds" so I got
to know him through that as well.
Can you give us a non-technical overview of the research that
you were doing?
Well, the, I would say the main emphasis of our research is to
take this very complicated clinical presentation that people with
schizophrenia have and understand its mechanisms. By the complicated
clinical presentation I mean the fact that people with schizophrenia
hear voices which is an abnormality in perception, they have misinterpretations
of what's happening around them which are delusions, they have
a loss of emotion, just a long laundry list of different kinds
of symptoms that are not necessarily related to one another.
They affect perception, inference, emotion, language, and so you
take that complicated picture and you ask yourself the question,
what could explain such a diversity of symptoms in people with
this illness schizophrenia? So, our big push is to answer that
question and to drive to understand what the mechanisms are in
the brain and for that reason we use all these complex imaging
tools like Positron Emission Tomography and Magnetic Resonance
Imaging. We do a lot of work with experimental cognitive assessments
to see how their minds and brains actually solve problems and
then the other big link that we eventually want to make is, how
these abnormalities that we've seen with imaging are caused at
an even deeper level by genes and cells because what our research
up to this point has shown is that people with schizophrenia probably
have this diversity of symptoms because their brains didn't get
wired quite right.
They have what we call circuits in the brain or connections between
regions in the brain that just aren't functioning the way yours
are or mine are and we've demonstrated that over and over with
our imaging studies. So, once you know that there's something
that's gone wrong, a true fragmenting of the brain that leads
to this fragmenting of the mind or schizophrenia, once you know
that then you want to know, how did that fragmenting in the brain
That's one of the reasons we're so interested in neural development.
We're focusing more and more on studying the brain in adolescence
with schizophrenia and we're focusing more and more on trying
to understand how differences in genes or in gene expression effects
brain growth and development and ultimately, particularly in this
crucial adolescent period.
What do you actually see with the imaging?
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