Functional dysconnectivity of hippocampo-prefrontal neural systems in Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a brain disease that affects one per cent of Canadians — more than 300,000 people — causing hallucinations and disordered thought . Early intervention and prevention of relapse are key to minimizing the impact of schizophrenia on individuals and society, and an understanding of the brain changes that lead to first episode and relapse are important for achieving preventive care. Major aspects of schizophrenia include memory dysfunction and reality distortion, such as hallucinations and delusions. The brain systems that underlie these symptoms appear to involve neural systems in the hippocampo-prefrontal regions of the brain. While these neural systems exhibit a high degree of connectivity in healthy subjects, it is thought that dysconnectivity may be an underlying cause for schizophrenic symptoms. To demonstrate the role of impaired neural connectivity in schizophrenia, Dr. Todd Woodward is conducting neuroimaging studies to identify and characterize two hippocampal-prefrontal neural systems associated with schizophrenia. This functional and physiological understanding of the disease may allow for better prediction of first episode and relapse, in order to maximize early intervention.