News | Neuro Imaging | September 04, 2019

Neurological Brain Markers Might Detect Risk for Psychotic Disorders

Findings from MU study could help identify people at risk

Neurological Brain Markers Might Detect Risk for Psychotic Disorders

Researchers at the University of Missouri used MRI scans similar to this photo to find neurological markers in the human brain. These markers can be used to detect people at risk for developing psychotic disorders and to understand when this risk has been successfully treated. Image courtesy of Marquette University/John Kerns.

September 4, 2019 — Help may be on the way for people who might lose contact with reality through a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia.

People who may hear and see things that are not there could have symptoms of psychosis, better known as psychotic disorders. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found neurological markers in the human brain that can be used to detect people at-risk for developing psychotic disorders and to understand when this risk has been successfully treated.

“Psychotic disorders like schizophrenia are often lifelong and disabling for individuals,” said John Kerns, professor of psychology in the MU College of Arts and Science. “These disorders have major public health and societal costs greater than cancer. A major goal of our current research is to understand the nature of psychosis risk so we can prevent years of suffering.”

Researchers said psychotic disorders are associated with increased levels of dopamine — a chemical released by nerve cells — in a subregion of the brain called the striatum. This area is wired to process positive versus negative feedback for learning, often resulting in a person’s thoughts and actions based on what they’ve experienced in the past. Therefore, researchers suggest that psychotic disorders involve a faulty feedback in learning that then drives a person’s faulty beliefs and perceptions. However, measuring levels of dopamine in people is costly, invasive and not feasible in everyday clinical practice. In this new study, MU researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at MU’s Brain Imaging Center and found that people at risk for psychotic disorders exhibit evidence of dysfunction in the striatum.

“This dysfunction is most evident when performing tasks where people need to learn from positive and negative feedback,” Kerns said. “For instance, we have found that the risk for psychotic disorders involves increased activation in the striatum for positive feedback, and negative feedback involves decreased activation in the same subregion of the brain.”

Researchers believe this pattern of activation could explain symptoms of psychotic disorders. For example, activation resulting from increased positive feedback could make a person’s assumption seem truer than it really is; meanwhile, activation from decreased negative feedback could make someone less likely to discard negative ideas. The team will conduct future research to examine how well an MRI can predict the risk of psychotic disorders and whether prevention treatments can ‘normalize’ MRI scans. They hope that their research will help prevent psychotic disorders, improve the lives of millions of people and greatly reduce public health costs.

The study, “Striatum-related functional activation during reward versus punishment based learning in psychosis risk”, was published in Neuropsychopharmacology.1 

For more information: www.nature.com/npp

 

Reference

1. Karcher N.R., Hua J.P.Y., Kerns J.G. Striatum-related functional activation during reward- versus punishment-based learning in psychosis risk. Neuropsychopharmacology, published online July 4, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-019-0455-z

Related Content

Imaging Biometrics and Medical College of Wisconsin Awarded NIH Grant
News | Neuro Imaging | September 09, 2019
Imaging Biometrics LLC (IB), in collaboration with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), has received a $2.75 million...
ASNC Announces Multisocietal Cardiac Amyloidosis Imaging Consensus
News | Cardiac Imaging | September 09, 2019
September 9, 2019 — The American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) published a new expert consensus document along
AJR Publishes Gender Affirmation Surgery Primer for Radiologists. transgender radiology images,

Scout image from contrast-enhanced CT shows erectile implant; stainless steel and silicone anchors (arrow) transfixed to pubic bone are asymmetric.

News | Orthopedic Imaging | September 05, 2019
September 5, 2019 — An ahead-of-print article published in the December issue of the American Journal of Roentgen
Medical Imaging Rates Continue to Rise Despite Push to Reduce Their Use
News | Radiology Imaging | September 03, 2019
Despite a broad campaign among physician groups to reduce the amount of medical imaging, use rates of various scans...
High-capacity MRI Scanner Approvals Boosting Innovations in MRI-safe Pulse Oximeters
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 29, 2019
A notable increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases has led to a surge in sales of high-end diagnostic machines,...
Delaware Imaging Network Now Offers NeuroQuant Brain Imaging MRI Software
News | Neuro Imaging | August 29, 2019
Delaware Imaging Network (DIN), Delaware’s largest network of outpatient medical imaging centers, has added NeuroQuant...
Displacement comparison at the end-systolic frame and final frame

Displacement comparison at the end-systolic frame and final frame. The three patients (V6, V10, V16) with different left-ventricle walls are shown. Point-to-surface distance is a measure to estimate the distance of a point from the reference surface. Image courtesy of WMG, University of Warwick

News | Cardiac Imaging | August 28, 2019
A new 3-D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) computing technique developed by scientists in WMG at the University of...
Smoldering Spots in the Brain May Signal Severe MS

NIH researchers found that dark rimmed spots representing ongoing, “smoldering” inflammation, may be a hallmark of more disabling forms of multiple sclerosis. Image courtesy of Reich lab, NIH/NINDS.

News | Neuro Imaging | August 22, 2019
Aided by a high-powered brain scanner and a 3-D printer, National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers peered inside...
Vaping Impairs Vascular Function

Image courtesy of the American Heart Association

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 21, 2019
Inhaling a vaporized liquid solution through an e-cigarette, otherwise known as vaping, immediately impacts vascular...
Improved Imaging Technique Could Increase Chances of Prostate Cancer Survival
News | Prostate Cancer | August 20, 2019
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their...