(CTN News) – Early onset psychosis (EOP) has been associated with a reduction in gray matter in the brain, according to new research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IPPN).
Molecular Psychiatry’s largest study on EOP provides unprecedented details about the disease. EOP patients have reduced gray matter across nearly all brain regions. The detailed mapping may help diagnose EOP in the future and track the effects of treatment.
Early on in life, early on in life is when the brain is developing at a critical time.
As a result of the illness, individuals are likely to experience severe and long-lasting symptoms that do not respond well to treatment. However, statistical power and sample size have been limited in research into EOP.
Study participants came from Norway, Spain, Canada, Italy, Australia, and the UK, and their scans were compared to those of 469 healthy controls. In the study, gray matter volumes in almost all regions of the brain were lower in patients with EOP compared to healthy controls, with a marked effect on the left median cingulate, an area of the brain associated with emotions, learning, and memory formation.
“Early onset psychosis can have a devastating impact on a person’s life and well-being, but our understanding of the illness is still sadly relatively limited,” said Dr. Matthew Kempton, Reader in Neuroimaging Psychiatry at King’s IoPPN and the study’s senior author. Hundreds of thousands of data points measuring volume were examined using new technologies in this study, the largest neuroimaging analysis of EOP to date.
Compared to people without EOP, people with EOP have a lower volume of gray matter in nearly all parts of their brain. Hopefully, this detailed map will provide a basis for future research, since it could serve as a diagnostic tool and track the effectiveness of treatments.”
Those with an earlier onset of EOP had lower gray matter volumes in a number of small regions than those with a later onset of EOP.
First author Shuqing Si of King’s IoPPN says gray matter processes information in the brain and plays a big role in memory, emotions, and movement.
A specially created software program (ENIGMA-VBM) developed at King’s University was used to map where there have been local increases and decreases in brain volume. Consequently, our sample now includes brain scans from many parts of the world, as a result of this technology. Now that we’ve discovered how effective this software is, we’re looking at the brains of people suffering from several other disorders.”