Schizophrenia could be the result of differences in the structure of the spine. Past theories about the disease speculate that it’s caused by abnormal brain chemistry or defects in the development of brain pathways. Now researchers have discovered that the part of the spine that is inside the brains of schizophrenics is smaller and abnormally shaped. William Greenough says, “It’s a maladaptive change that would alter the way neurons communicate.”

Schizophrenia seems to be a general defect that effects the way the brain adapts to new information. The disease is genetic, but symptoms usually don?t show themselves until adolescence. Since scientists can only study post-mortem brain tissue, they don?t know if the differences seen in schizophrenic spines occur at the onset of the disease, or are caused by its long-term effects or even to the drugs used to treat it. Researchers are now studying the effects of schizophrenia drugs on mice to see if they cause the same kind of spinal defects.

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