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New leads on hushing the “voices” of schizophrenia

Stanislav Zakharendo, MD, PhD

A missing gene and the resulting slow connection between brain structures may leave individuals vulnerable to the “voices” that are a common symptom of schizophrenia.

The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital study is the first to tie a specific brain circuit to the “voices,” delusions and other psychotic symptoms of this chronic brain disorder. The circuit links parts of the brain that interpret sound.

Working in a laboratory model of schizophrenia, researchers reported that losing one copy of a gene named Dgcr8 slowed the flow of information between the brain structures. “We think this sets the stage for stress or another factor to come along and cause auditory hallucinations,” said Stanislav Zakharenko, MD, PhD, Developmental Neurobiology.

The research also provides a new focus for efforts to develop drugs that quiet the “voices” of schizophrenia with fewer side effects than current medications.

The research appears in the journal Science.

June 5, 2014

Read the news release.