Researchers Pry into Schizophrenia's Stubborn Secrets

Adapted from image courtesy of Lynn D. Selemon Stereologic cell counting of prefrontal cortical area 9. Nissl-stained neurons (shown as triangles and dots) were counted directly in a stack of three-dimensional boxes extending throughout all layers of the cortex. Could any major illness be more difficult to study than schizophrenia? Despite unprecedented advances in research over recent years, largely aided by improved neuroimaging technologies, little is known for sure about either its origins

Steve Bunk
Sep 12, 1999

Adapted from image courtesy of Lynn D. Selemon

Stereologic cell counting of prefrontal cortical area 9. Nissl-stained neurons (shown as triangles and dots) were counted directly in a stack of three-dimensional boxes extending throughout all layers of the cortex.
Could any major illness be more difficult to study than schizophrenia? Despite unprecedented advances in research over recent years, largely aided by improved neuroimaging technologies, little is known for sure about either its origins or its mechanisms. No responsible genes have been located, no environmental effects firmly implicated, no developmental cause identified, no neurodegeneration proven, and no biological processes established as leading to specific symptoms.

Like many mental illnesses, schizophrenia appears to involve not only complex genetics, but also environmental contributions that interact both with the genes and independently of them, notes Daniel P. Weinberger, chief of the clinical brain disorders branch at the National Institute of Mental Health. He...

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