Scientists show thalamus dysfunction in early schizophrenia
- By: Tracey Maher
The thalamus, the brain's main sensory filter, is dysfunctional in the earliest stages of schizophrenia. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (2001;158:116-8) shows for the first time that thalamic abnormalities are present close to the onset of psychosis. These findings may explain why people with schizophrenia experience confusion during their illness.
The thalamus, the area where information is received and relayed to other areas of the brain, is of particular interest in schizophrenia because of the part it plays in processing information. People with schizophrenia often have difficulties in processing information properly and as a result may end up with an information overload in some areas of the brain.
The study involved 67 participants: 38 were experiencing their first episode of psychosis and 29 were healthy volunteers. In contrast to other studies, which have looked at the thalamus of chronically ill patients, the patients in this study