Schizophrenia is a genetic condition that hinders the brain's natural development and makes it structurally different from a healthy brain. This results in the disturbances in areas of the brain responsible for perception, thought, attention and motor behavior. The symptoms of schizophrenia includes language deficits, fluctuating emotions, lack of vitality, delusions, hallucinations and unconventional behavior.
Over two million individuals in the United States alone suffer from schizophrenia, making it one of the most prevalent psychological problems in the country.
Years of studies have revealed the disparities between a schizophrenic and healthy brain. With the use of medical technologies like a positron emission tomography or PET test, scientists are able to observe how the brain behaves and is response to different tasks. Knowing how the brain works helps researchers understand the condition and find the most suitable treatment. A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen was able to build a model explaining how a neurotransmitter called dopamine is released in the brain, and how it can play a role in the natural learning process and potentially in the treatment of schizophrenia.
There have been countless issues surrounding the relationship between dopamine and certain brain functions like learning. Although the neurotransmitter's involvement in different processes that control how a person behaves has been well established, its role in learning and in the treatment of schizophrenia remains controversial. The model created by the UC researchers show how the imbalance of dopamine levels in the brain can lead to the development of schizophrenia and how the condition can be treated through predicting and stimulating the release of the neurotransmitter.
Studying a live and active human brain is very difficult. Head researcher from the Faculty of Health and Science of the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology Jakod Kisbye said that theoretical neuroscience is very complicated and working on the model required the full collaboration of mathematicians, neurobiologists and physicists. He added that as soon as they gather enough evidence to prove that their model is accurate, they can start using it to treat schizophrenia and other dopamine-related health conditions. The model explaining the release of dopamine in the brain was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.