Penn Medicine researchers are the first to discover two distinct neuroanatomical subtypes of schizophrenia after analyzing the brain scans of over 300 patients. The first type showed lower widespread volumes of gray matter when compare to healthy controls, while the second type had volumes largely similar to those in normal brains. The findings, published online on February 27, 2020 in Brain, suggest that, in the future, accounting for these differences could inform more personalized treatment options. "Numerous other studies have shown that people with schizophrenia have significantly smaller volumes of brain tissue than healthy controls. However, for at least a third of patients we looked at, this was not the case at all -- their brains were almost completely normal," said principal investigator Christos Davatzikos, PhD, the Wallace T. Miller Professor of Radiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "In the future, we're not going to be saying, 'This patient has schizophrenia,' We're going to be saying, 'This patient has this subtype' or 'this abnormal pattern,' rather than having a wide umbrella under which everyone is categorized." Schizophrenia is a poorly understood mental disorder that typically presents with hallucinations, delusions, and other cognitive issues -- though symptoms and responses to treatment vary widely from patient to patient. Up until now, attempts to study the disease, by comparing healthy to diseased brains, has neglected to account for this heterogeneity, which Dr. Davatzikos says has muddled research findings and undermined clinical care.
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