Why Does Schizophrenia Start In Adolescence? An Inside Look At The Teen Brain

Schizophrenia typically begins in early adulthood; between the ages of 15 and 25. Men tend to get develop schizophrenia slightly earlier than women; the average age of onset is 18 in men and 25 in women. Here is some new research that is providing hints on why people develop schizophrenia at these ages:

Adolescence is a time of growth and change — but psychologists also know it’s a time when the first signs of certain mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can appear. The precise link between mental health and adolescence was unclear, but a new study on brain changes that occur in teenagers helps explain why late adolescence is such a critical time period for mental health.

MRI scans of teens revealed that brain regions which have the strongest link to the schizophrenia risk genes are developing most rapidly. These regions are critical hubs that control how different regions of the brain communicate, so when something goes wrong, it can have wide-ranging implications.

“Adolescence can be a difficult transitional period and it’s when we typically see the first signs of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and depression,” explained Ed Bullmore, head and professor of psychiatry at Cambridge, Medical Xpress reported. "This study gives us a clue why this is the case.”

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Research Paper Details Below:


How does human brain structure mature during adolescence? We
used MRI to measure cortical thickness and intracortical myelination
in 297 population volunteers aged 14–24 y old. We found and replicated
that association cortical areas were thicker and less myelinated
than primary cortical areas at 14 y. However, association cortex had
faster rates of shrinkage and myelination over the course of adolescence.
Age-related increases in cortical myelination were maximized
approximately at the internal layer of projection neurons. Adolescent
cortical myelination and shrinkage were coupled and specifically associated
with a dorsoventrally patterned gene expression profile
enriched for synaptic, oligodendroglial- and schizophrenia-related
genes. Topologically efficient and biologically expensive hubs of the
brain anatomical network had greater rates of shrinkage/myelination
and were associated with overexpression of the same transcriptional
profile as cortical consolidation. We conclude that normative human
brain maturation involves a genetically patterned process of consolidating
anatomical network hubs. We argue that developmental variation
of this consolidation process may be relevant both to normal
cognitive and behavioral changes and the

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Interesting :thinking: