New Research Suggests that Alzheimer’s Dementia and Schizophrenia Could Be Linked

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Many know of schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease being completely different mental illnesses, however new studies and research reveal that the two illnesses affect the same areas of the brain.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford, took MRI’s of 484 healthy people between the ages of 8 -85 years of age, to study the changes of the brain as people age. The study shows that brain cells and activity that develops during adolescence and early adulthood, are the first to deteriorate and decline, becoming vulnerable to weak spots or grey matter in the brain.

Schizophrenia, a mental illness that gives an isolated view of reality, causing hallucinations and delusions, refers to the disintegration of the normal balance of emotion and reasoning. Although  the word schizophrenia means split mind, the misconception of the illness is that those living with schizophrenia suffer from multiple personalities or a split personality.

Alzheimer’s dementia disease has been known as the polar opposite of Schizophrenia.  In early history, schizophrenia was often diagnosed as “premature dementia”, due to schizophrenia and dementia having similar symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative mental illness, that strikes the brain’s nerve cells, resulting in memory loss, hallucinations, delusions, logic reasoning, and language skills.

Both illnesses have similar symptoms, so is it strange that certain areas of the brain are responsible for the existence of Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia?

An article inside the  Medical Daily by , “Healthy Aging And Disease: Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia May Come From Similar Weak Spots In The Brain”, reveals from a 2001 study in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, that “schizophrenia patients experienced symptoms normally pointing to dementia, including disorientation, poor intellectual performance, and incontinence.”

Dr. Gwenaëlle Douaud, lead study author of Oxford University’s Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, along with her team, found that the MRI scans from patients with schizophrenia were similar to those who were suffering with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Douaud, suggests certain areas of the brain play a role in the emergence of these polar opposite diseases, in essence of characteristics.

In a press release, she tells sources ,

“Our results show that the same specific parts of the brain not only develop more slowly, but also degenerate faster than other parts. These complex regions, which combine information coming from various senses, seem to be more vulnerable than the rest of the brain to both schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, even though these two diseases have different origins and appear at very different, almost opposite, times of life.”

Even with technical advances and the speed of technology, physicians have limited tools to help them figure out which patients could develop schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s.  Both illnesses are hereditary.

Researcher Hugh Perry, of the Medical Research Council says, ” This large-scale and detailed study provides an important, and previously missing, link between development, aging and disease processes in the brain. It raises important issues about possible genetic and environmental factors that may occur in early life and then have lifelong consequences “.

Currently more research is still being done on the linkage between schizophrenia and alzheimer’s disease.

Sources:

2014

Author James Maynard, The Surprising Link Between Alzheimer’s and Schizophrenia http://www.techtimes.com/articles/20929/20141125/the-surprising-link-between-alzheimers-and-schizophrenia.htm

Author , “Healthy Aging And Disease: Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia May Come From Similar Weak Spots In The Brain”

http://www.medicaldaily.com/healthy-aging-and-disease-alzheimers-schizophrenia-may-come-similar-weak-spots-brain-312480

About Alzheimer’s ; Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

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