June 25, 2024

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What are key biological differences between mentally ill and normal people?

What are key biological differences between mentally ill and normal people?


What are key biological differences between mentally ill and normal people? 

A new study shows that people with psychosis have a larger area of ​​the striatum in the brain.

Using MRI scans, neuroscientists have found that psychopaths have a striatum 10 percent larger than normal, a population of neurons in the basal ganglia in the subcortex of the forebrain that can be used to represent the apparent biology between psychopaths and non-psychopaths the difference.


What are key biological differences between mentally ill and normal people?


Neuroscientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), the University of Pennsylvania and California State University have discovered a biological difference between psychopaths and non-psychopaths.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, the scientists found that the striatum (a region of the forebrain) was 10 percent larger in psychopaths compared to controls with low or no psychotic features.


Psychopaths, or people with psychopathic traits, are people who have egomania and antisocial tendencies.

This usually manifests as a lack of guilt for one’s actions, a lack of empathy for others, and in some cases criminal tendencies.


The striatum, part of the forebrain, is the subcortical region that encompasses the entire brain that coordinates numerous elements of cognition, including motor and action planning, decision-making, motivation, reinforcement, and reward perception.


Previous research has shown that people with psychosis have an overactive striatum, but the effect of its size on behavior has not been proven. New research shows that there are stark biological differences between people who display psychopathic tendencies and those who don’t.

While not all people with psychopathic traits end up breaking the law, and not all criminals meet the criteria for psychosis, there is a strong correlation between them. There is also important evidence that psychopaths are associated with more aggressive behavior.


An understanding of the role of biology in antisocial and criminal behavior may help improve existing behavioral theories and inform policy and treatment options.

To conduct their study, the neuroscientists scanned the brains of 120 participants in the United States and interviewed them using the Psychopathology Checklist, a psychological assessment tool used to determine whether individuals have psychopathological features.


Co-author Olivia Choy, an assistant professor from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Social Sciences, said: “Our findings help advance our understanding of antisocial behaviours such as psychopaths. The knowledge behind it. We found that, in addition to the influence of social environment, it is important to consider that there may be biological differences between antisocial and non-sociopathic individuals, and in this case, the size of the brain structure.”


What are key biological differences between mentally ill and normal people?


Assistant Professor Olivia Choy, a neuroscientist at Nanyang Technological University’s School of Social Sciences, is currently showing a diagram of the human striatum.


“Because biological characteristics, such as the size of a person’s striatum, can be inherited from parents to Children, these findings lend more support to the neurodevelopmental view of psychopaths — that the brains of these criminals do not develop normally throughout childhood and adolescence.”


Professor Robert Sugar, Cal State Long Beach’s School of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Emergency Management and co-author of the study, added: “The use of a psychopathic checklist in a community sample remains a novel scientific approach. …helps us understand the psychopathic characteristics of individuals who are not in prison, but those who walk among us every day.”


“By replicating and extending previous work, this study increases our confidence that Psychopathies are associated with structural differences in the striatum, a brain region that is important in a variety of important processes in cognitive and social functioning. Future research will need to understand factors that may contribute to these structural differences.”


The findings of the study were recently published in the peer-reviewed academic journal, the Journal of Psychiatric Research.


By analyzing the results of MRI scans and interviews to screen for psychiatric disorders, the researchers linked having a larger striatum to an increased need for stimulation, through stimulation and excitement, and a higher likelihood of impulsive behavior .


The striatum is part of the basal ganglia, which are groups of neurons deep in the center of the brain. The basal ganglia receive signals from the cerebral cortex, which controls cognition, social behavior, and discerning which sensory information deserves attention.


However, over the past 20 years, understanding of the striatum has expanded, yielding implication that this region is associated with difficulties in social behavior. Previous studies have not addressed the question of whether striatal enlargement is observed in adult women with psychotic features.


In their study of 120 people, the neuroscientists said they examined 12 women and observed for the first time that psychosis was associated with an enlarged striatum in women, just as it did in men.

During human development, the striatum typically becomes smaller as children mature, suggesting that psychopaths may be related to differences in how the brain develops.


Assistant Professor Choy suggested that a better understanding of striatal development is still needed.

A number of factors may be involved in why one person is more likely than another to have psychopathic traits.

Psychosis may be associated with structural abnormalities in the brain, which may be developmental. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that the environment also has an impact on the structure of the striatum.


Professor Wren added: “We have always known that mentally ill people seek rewards at all costs, including criminal activity involving property, sex and drugs. We have now discovered the neurobiological basis of this impulsive and stimulating behavior, which That takes the form of an enlarged striatum, a key brain region involved in reward.”


The scientists hope to conduct further research to find out what causes the enlarged striatum in people with psychotic features.








What are key biological differences between mentally ill and normal people?

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