Building on the work of the Human Connectome Project, which is identifying the neural pathways that underlie brain function and behavior, a new study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is aiming to identify how those pathways are different in people with psychiatric illnesses. Researchers are using high-resolution imaging tools to identify structural and functional connectivity patterns in the brains of patients with psychiatric disorders and then comparing those scans to others taken of the brains of people who dont have the disorders. The idea is to see whether, and how, connectivity patterns change in the brains of people with those illnesses.
A NEW STUDY AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN ST. LOUIS IS AIMING TO USE BRAIN IMAGING TO IDENTIFY NETWORKS AND PATHWAYS THAT UNDERLIE BRAIN FUNCTION IN PEOPLE WITH PSYCHIATRIC ILLNESSES. JIM DRYDEN REPORTS
THE STUDY IS ONE OF VERY FEW BEING FUNDED BY THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF MENTAL HEALTHS BIOBEHAVIORAL RESEARCH AWARD FOR INNOVATIVE NEW SCIENTISTS, OR BRAINS. THE PROJECT WILL BUILD ON THE WORK OF THE HUMAN CONNECTOME PROJECT, USING STATE-OF-THE-ART IMAGING TECHNIQUES TO TRY AND UNCOVER BRAIN CONNECTIVITY-BASED SUBGROUPS IN THOSE WHO HAVE PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS. WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY PSYCHIATRIST DANIEL MAMAH IS DIRECTING THE STUDY.
(act) :25 o/c psychiatric disorders
In psychiatry, diagnoses, essentially, are based on symptoms
that are reported by the patient, which is, obviously,
very important, but we may have better validity if we
incorporated brain-imaging measures. And so what were
trying to do is trying to look at the connectivity within
the brain and try to see if, using that, we can come up with
better sub-categories of psychiatric disorders.
BECAUSE CLINICAL SYMPTOMS, MAMAH SAYS, ARE NOT EVERYTHING. THATS WHY PHYSICIANS AND SCIENTISTS HAVE DEVELOPED OTHER WAYS TO TEST FOR DISEASES LIKE HEART DISEASE OR UNDERLYING PROBLEMS LIKE HYPERTENSION. ITS NOT THAT A PATIENTS CLINICAL SYMPTOMS ARENT IMPORTANT, BUT THEY DONT TELL THE ENTIRE STORY.
(act) :18 o/c underlying abnormality
And sometimes the clinical symptoms may not even be very
prominent. So you can have a really high blood pressure and
have no symptoms. It doesnt mean that you dont have high
blood pressure. It just means that youre not symptomatic.
So its really important to, sometimes, dissociate symptoms
from underlying abnormality.
MAMAH SAYS IN THE PAST, THERE HAVE BEEN STUDIES OF PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS USING BRAIN IMAGING, BUT NOT WITH THE NEWER, MORE PRECISE IMAGING TECHNIQUES USED BY THE CONNECTOME PROJECT. AND HE BELIEVES THOSE TOOLS WILL HELP SETTLE SOME OF THE QUESTIONS RAISED IN PAST IMAGING STUDIES.
(act) :17 o/c exact thing
There are a lot of authors that have published on
abnormal functional connectivity networks in a variety
of psychiatric disorders schizophrenia, bipolar disorder,
major depression the problem, though, is that they dont
always report the same exact thing.
MAMAH SAYS HE AND HIS COLLEAGUES WONT BE LOOKING FOR TREATMENT TARGETS AT LEAST NOT YET. BUT HE SAYS THAT IF THE IMAGING TESTS ARE ABLE TO REVEAL NEW FACTS ABOUT HOW CERTAIN PSYCHIATRIC PROBLEMS DISRUPT NORMAL BRAIN CONNECTIVITY, SOME POTENTIAL TREATMENT TARGETS MAY EMERGE. CURRENTLY, HE SAYS, ITS CLEAR THAT ALTHOUGH SOME PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS MAY SHARE CLINICAL SYMPTOMS, THEY MAY NOT SHARE THE SAME UNDERLYING CAUSES. AND HE BELIEVES BY IDENTIFYING THOSE CAUSES WITH IMAGING STUDIES, IT COULD BECOME POSSIBLE TO TREAT PATIENTS WITH THOSE PROBLEMS MORE EFFECTIVELY.
(act) :17 o/c have found
People that are depressed, you give them antidepressants.
Some get better. Some dont. The idea is if youre able
to disentangle the different types of schizophrenia, the
different types of bipolar, then we can develop better
treatments for the specific subgroups that we have found.
MAMAHS BRAINS AWARD GRANT IS ONE OF ONLY 8 IN THE COUNTRY TO BE FUNDED BY THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH THIS YEAR. IM JIM DRYDEN…