The Department of Psychiatry at the University Hospital of the University of Navarre has received two awards at the XVII Congress of the European College of Neuropsychcopharmacology, held recently in Stockholm.
The studies awarded deal with the final conclusions of research work carried out by the Department in the field of schizophrenia. They specifically studied the biological bases of the disorder using neuroimaging and genetic study techniques. “It is known that one of the functions observed altered in patients with this ailment is that of attention. We wanted to see, by means of neuroimaging techniques, which regions of the brain might be failing when a person carries out specific tasks which need evermore attention”, explained Dr. Felipe Ortuño, specialist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University Hospital and principal author if this work.
The study compared the cerebral images of 11 healthy people with 11 patients, all subjected to exercise that demanded increasing attention. Using PET with oxygen 15 and the SPM (Statistical Parametric Mapping) image analysis system, the authors came to the conclusion that patients with schizophrenia have a number of dysfunctional areas. It was seen that, in general, they are located in the frontal cortex, such as the anterior limbic cortex and parietal. But, in this research, the involvement of a new area was detected, the supplementary motor area. This is a region which comes into play when tasks of attention aimed at evaluating temporary stimuli are required. When a healthy person is involved in an attention-demanding task, this region is triggered, but in patients with this pathology, the region is not activated with the same intensity. Moreover, it has been observed that, if this function fails, other, superior, functions may also fail. This work has been accepted for publication for the upcoming issue of the prestigious magazine, Neuroimage.
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