Patients with schizophrenia exhibit impaired activation of the midbrain when shown neutral stimuli during aversive conditioning, according to a small functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study.
The abnormal activation of this region, which is responsible for associative learning, appeared to be linked to the severity of the patients’ delusional symptoms, report the researchers.
“We found that the patients with schizophrenia, and especially the ones who had the most delusional symptoms, showed responses in the parts of the brain that normally tell you what’s important when they shouldn’t have done, such as in a neutral phase. And that was in line with our expectations,” study coauthor Jeremy Hall, PhD, MRCPsych, senior research fellow in psychiatry in the Division of Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Scotland, told Medscape Medical News.
Reported by Deborah Brauser
Reference: Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67:1246-1254.
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