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Neurology Learning NetworkHippocampus May Be Epicenter of Psychosis Brain Changes

New Study Reveals the Role of Hippocampus in Shaping Gray Matter Alterations Across Various Stages of Psychotic Illness

In a study recently published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers have identified the hippocampus as a key area where gray matter changes occur across different stages of psychosis. Utilizing MRI scans from 534 participants, the study could pave the way for targeted therapies that focus on this specific brain region.

HCN Medical Memo
This study underscores the importance of understanding the role of the hippocampus in the onset and progression of psychotic disorders. Targeted therapies focusing on this region could potentially revolutionize treatment approaches, offering a more effective way to manage symptoms and perhaps even prevent the onset of psychosis.

Key Points
  • The study involved MRI scans of 534 people from 4 independent cohorts, including those with first-episode psychosis, within 3 years of psychosis onset, and established schizophrenia.
  • Gray matter alterations were found to be constrained by the brain’s axonal pathways, indicating a structured pattern rather than random distribution.
  • Network diffusion modeling consistently identified the anterior hippocampus as a putative epicenter for volume loss across all patient cohorts.

“This finding could potentially guide therapies that can target this area of the brain, potentially limiting the impact of the illness or perhaps even reducing the risk of psychosis onset.”
– Sidhant Chopra, PhD, Monash University in Australia and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

Additional Points
  • The study also accounted for both medication-related and illness-related changes in gray matter volume.
  • Researchers noted that white matter fibers may act as conduits for the spread of pathology across all stages of psychotic illness.

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