Schizophrenia Is a Mystery, But This Discovery Might Change Things
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder
that has been fascinating scientists for hundreds
of years because we just don’t understand
But now we may have finally found the root
of this devastating disorder… it starts
when the brain is forming in the womb.
Schizophrenia causes people to hallucinate,
have a distorted view of reality, and experience
extremely disordered thinking.
Brain function can be so badly affected that
Symptoms usually appear in adolescence or
young adulthood and while some research has
suggested a link between schizophrenia, drug
usage, and trauma it’s has never been well
Because the symptoms appear later in life,
researchers have long assumed the root cause
is a mix of genetics, brain chemistry and
environmental factors — environmental being
your upbringing not the air you breathe.
In the past patients have long been misdiagnosed
and mistreated, sometimes even being jailed.
But new technology has helped us understand
what’s really going on.
Medical imaging has shown that a patient with
schizophrenia has a brain and Central Nervous
System that look different than an unaffected
There are hundreds of genetic mutations that
might cause schizophrenia, but scans all show
affected brains share the same “faulty genomic
It’s clear from mounting evidence that schizophrenia
is a brain disease.
Armed with this new information, researchers
turned to consider how that one pathway can
be consistently faulty among so many patients.
And they used a little mad-science-sounding
technique: they grew mini-brain structures
in a lab.
Specifically, they grew cerebral organoids,
recreating the first phases of human brain
development, using skin cells from test subjects.
Four of these subjects had schizophrenia and
three did not.
The cells grew into tiny organs that mimicked
brains in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
And the mini-brains grown from schizophrenic
patients showed critical malformations in
the cortex, the part of the brain that controls
things like memory, attention, and cognition.
The cells that become neurons weren’t distributed
The mini-brains showed there would be too
few mature neurons in the cortex for normal
functionality when the fetus became a full
This results suggest that schizophrenia likely
starts in the FIRST TRIMESTER.
The cells that develop into neurons don’t
connect the same way in a schizophrenic cortex
as they do in an unaffected one.
If your brain was a computer, a brain with
schizophrenia would be [to quote a source]
There would be only so much you could do from
the outside to fix it.
Which is why schizophrenia is so hard to treat,
and, it seems, impossible to prevent.
But knowledge is power and researchers are
now starting to look at schizophrenia treatment
with prenatal care, drugs, and supplements
so brains have a better chance of forming
with the right neural pathways.
Thanks for watching and if you want more science
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We’re still learning about how our own brain
works, check out Trace’s video about the
giant neurons that could explain where consciousness
Fun fact: The first recorded case of schizophrenia
was in 1550 BC in one of the oldest Egyptian
medical texts, the Ebers Papyrus.