McLEAN IN THE NEWS

Benes Article Links Amygdala to Schizophrenia

August 31st, 2005

In a paper published in the the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Francine M. Benes, MD, PhD, director of McLean's Program in Structural and Molecular Neuroscience, reports being able to produce cellular changes in rats' brains similar to those seen in humans with schizophrenia by manipulating a precise area of the animals' amygdala, a region critical to emotional stress and learning.

Dr. Benes' research establishes for the first time a direct link between findings seen in the postmortem brains of individuals with schizophrenia and electrophysiological recordings in rats' brains after experimentally-induced simulations. The publication speculates that these changes in the electrical properties of hippocampal GABA cells would probably interfere with emotional responses and learning, particularly under stressful conditions.

"These new findings in rats that we report on in the PNAS are consistent with the idea that the increased metabolism seen in individuals living with schizophrenia may be related to GABA dysfunction," she said.

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