Study Finds Reduced Volume in Hippocampus of Patients With Psychotic Disorders

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Mankind has been trying to understand the pathophysiology of psychotic disorders for more than a hundred years, and much remains unclear. But, researchers from Harvard Medical School investigating the pathophysiology of these disorders have taken a step forward by finding that patients with psychotic disorders have a reduced volume in the hippocampus.

Hippocampus from GraysMedical News Today reports previous studies have indicated that alterations in the medial temporal lobe (MTL), hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, and entorhinal cortex are indications of schizophrenia. But, the extent to which these alterations have actually been found in patients with psychotic disorders has been largely inconclusive. For example, most studies show either littler or no change in the MTL in patients with bipolar disorder.

The team of Harvard researchers decided to investigate further by conducting a neuroimaging study in healthy volunteers and patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and psychotic bipolar disorder. The researchers observed that the MTL appeared to be reduced in volume in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, but not in patients with psychotic bipolar disorder.

However, the researchers did find reductions in the hippocampus across all three groups of patients with psychotic disorders when compared to healthy volunteers, as the researchers report in JAMA Psychiatry. Additionally, each psychotic disorder also demonstrated hippocampal alterations unique to that condition.

The researchers hope to use their findings to improve prediction and diagnosis for individuals with psychotic disorders. They wrote in their report, “Understanding the functional consequences and etiological underpinnings of these alterations will likely facilitate better prediction and targeted intervention in psychoses.”

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