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Science News About Schizophrenia

Brain Region Singled Out for Social Memory, Possible Therapeutic Target for Select Brain Disorders

Science Update

highlighted CA2 region of hippocampus in mouse brain

The hippocampus houses learning and memory—specifically the storage of knowledge of who, what, where, and when. Using a special transgenic mouse, researchers have now pinpointed a hippocampal region called CA2 that is important for social memory, the ability of animal to recognize another of the same species. Understanding this region could be useful in understanding and treating disorders characterized by altered social behaviors such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism.

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NeuroBioBank Gives Researchers One-stop Access to Post-mortem Brains

Press Release

Neurobiobanks - the Importance of Brain Tissue Donation

The NIH NeuroBioBank provides researchers with one-stop access to post-mortem brains.

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Webinar on Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia with NIMH’s Judith L. Rapoport, M.D.

Science Update

Judith Rapoport Webinar on Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia

Register for a webinar on September 9 featuring NIMH scientist Dr. Judith Rapoport, who will discuss brain development in childhood and adolescence and childhood-onset schizophrenia.

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New Data Reveal Extent of Genetic Overlap Between Major Mental Disorders

Press Release

SNP-based Coheritibilities

The largest genome-wide study of its kind has determined how much five major mental illnesses are traceable to the same common inherited genetic variations.

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Stray Prenatal Gene Network Suspected in Schizophrenia

Press Release

Schizophrenia networks in prefrontal cortex

Researchers have reverse-engineered the outlines of a disrupted prenatal gene network in schizophrenia, by tracing spontaneous mutations to where and when they likely cause damage in the brain.

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NIH Funds Industry Collaborations to Identify New Uses for Existing Compounds

Press Release

NIH logo NCATS colors  thumbnail

NIH Funds Industry Collaborations to Identify New Uses for Existing Compounds

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Taming Suspect Gene Reverses Schizophrenia-like Abnormalities in Mice

Press Release

Neuregulin 1

Scientists have reversed behavioral and brain abnormalities in adult mice that resemble some features of schizophrenia, by restoring normal expression to the gene Neuregulin1, which makes a protein important for brain development.

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Flu in Pregnancy May Quadruple Child’s Risk for Bipolar Disorder

Press Release

H1N1 influenza virus particles

Pregnant mothers’ exposure to the flu has been linked to a nearly 4-fold increased risk for bipolar disorder in their adult child.

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NIH Study Shows People with Serious Mental Illnesses Can Lose Weight

Press Release

project achieve thumbnail

Losing weight is challenging for everyone. It can be particularly difficult for someone with a serious mental illness. An NIMH-funded clinical study proves that a modified diet and exercise program can work for people with serious mental illnesses. Participants lost 7 pounds more than controls—and continued to lose weight.

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Developing Male Brain Exposed to Less Stress-Protective Protein

Science Update

Dr. Tracy Bale

Why are rates of schizophrenia and autism higher in males? New evidence implicates an enzyme expressed in the placenta that helps protect the developing fetal brain from adverse effects of maternal stress early in pregnancy.

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Five Major Mental Disorders Share Genetic Roots

Science Update

Dr. Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D.

Five major mental disorders share some of the same genetic risk factors, the largest genome-wide study of its kind has found.

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Five Major Mental Disorders Share the Same Genes

Science Update

DNA double helix

Largest study yet into genetics and mental health reveal that the five most common disorders—autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, and major depression—all share similar genetic components.

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Mapping Brain Circuits Provides Clues to Schizophrenia, Earlier Detection of Psychosis

Science Update

prefrontal cortex-basal ganglia circuit

A newly identified brain circuit could lead to earlier detection of psychosis in patients with schizophrenia.

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Different Genes, Same Risk Pathway in Schizophrenia

Science Update

scientist holding lab mouse.

Work by NIMH-supported scientists illustrates the variability of the genes and biology underlying illnesses like schizophrenia.

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Gene Variants Implicated in Extreme Weight Gain Associated with Antipsychotics

Science Update

doctor writing prescription

A small study suggests that people with certain genetic variants may be more susceptible to extreme weight gain if they take certain antipsychotic medications.

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Gene Regulator in Brain’s Executive Hub Tracked Across Lifespan – NIH study

Press Release

PFC methylation

For the first time, scientists have tracked the activity, across the lifespan, of an environmentally responsive regulatory mechanism that turns genes on and off in the brain’s executive hub. Among key findings of the study by National Institutes of Health scientists: genes implicated in schizophrenia and autism turn out to be members of a select club of genes in which regulatory activity peaks during an environmentally-sensitive critical period in development.

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NIMH RAISE Project Makes Progress as Teams Refine Research Approaches

Science Update

Researchers continue to make progress in the NIMH Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) Project, which seeks to intervene at the earliest stages of illness in order to prevent long term disability. Recent refinements to the two RAISE studies will ensure that RAISE continues efficiently, and generates results that will be relevant to consumers and health care policy makers.

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Switching Antipsychotics May Reduce Metabolic Risks

Science Update

Photo of assorted pills.

Patients experiencing cardiovascular or metabolic side effects while taking an antipsychotic medication may fare better if they switch to a different medication provided they are closely monitored, according to an NIMH-funded study.

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Rare Gene Glitch May Hold Clues for Schizophrenia – NIH-funded Study

Press Release

Pic alt tag: inheritance of VIPR2 mutation

Scientists are eyeing a rare genetic glitch for clues to improved treatments for some people with schizophrenia – even though they found the mutation in only one third of 1 percent of patients.

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Mental Decline Thwarted in Aging Rats

Press Release

P7C3 compound chemical structure

Scientists have discovered a compound that restores the capacity to form new memories in aging rats, likely by improving the survival of newborn neurons in the brain's memory hub. The research, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, has turned up clues to a neuroprotective mechanism that could lead to a treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

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Effectiveness of Long-term Use of Antipsychotic Medication to Treat Childhood Schizophrenia is Limited

Science Update

child playing hopscotch

Few youths with early-onset schizophrenia who are treated with antipsychotic medications for up to a year appear to benefit from their initial treatment choice over the long term, according to results from an NIMH-funded study. The study was published online ahead of print May 4, 2010, in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Impaired Brain Connections Traced to Schizophrenia Mutation

Press Release

mouse at decision point in T-maze

The strongest known recurrent genetic cause of schizophrenia impairs communications between the brain’s decision-making and memory hubs, resulting in working memory deficits, according to a study in mice.

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Genes and Circuitry, Not Just Clinical Observation, to Guide Classification for Research

Science Update

3D MRI model of brain

NIMH is launching a long-term project aimed at ultimately improving treatment and prevention by studying classification of mental illness, based on genetics and neuroscience in addition to clinical observation. The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project is not intended to replace psychiatry’s existing diagnostic system for practitioners and will proceed in an independent direction, said Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D., Director of the NIMH Division of Adult Translational Research, who is directing the effort. By taking a fresh look – without preconceived categories – the project aims to improve the validity of classification for researchers.

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Symptoms in Mice Lacking a Single Receptor Type Mimic the Development of Schizophrenia

Science Update

black mouse

Deleting one type of neurotransmitter receptor in a specific population of brain cells can induce schizophrenia-like behavior in mice, but only when the receptor is deleted early in development, according to a study by NIMH intramural scientists. The work provides strong support for previous observations implicating these receptors in psychosis; further, the mice provide a model of how psychotic symptoms can arise from a disruption in neuronal development, consistent with observations of how schizophrenia emerges in humans.

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High-Tech Robots’ Efforts Bear Fruit Thanks to NIH Roadmap

Science Update

Robots working at NCGC

Researchers recently announced discovery of a new class of molecules that holds promise for blocking the clumps of protein that clog the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. The new findings are the latest made possible by the NIH Roadmap Molecular Libraries initiative, which employs high-tech robots and molecular genetics to speedily screen molecules for their biological effects. The discovery required testing nearly 300,000 compounds – a task thought insurmountable just a decade ago.

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Atlas Will Reveal When and Where Genes Turn On in the Brain

Science Update

helix

When and where in the brain a gene turns on holds clues to its possible role in disease. For example, a recent study found that forms of a gene associated with schizophrenia are over-expressed in the fetal brain, adding to evidence implicating this critical developmental period.

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First Direct Evidence: Instability is the Normal State of the Brain’s Cortex

Science Update

Neuronal avalanches in monkey cortex

Even when we’re not doing much of anything, our brain’s cortex, or outer mantle, is bustling with activity. In fact, scientists for the first time have detected “avalanches” of cortex activity in awake monkeys at rest.

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Schizophrenia Linked to Over-expression of Gene in Fetal Brain

Science Update

Gene over-expressed in fetal brain

A gene called DISC1, (for “disrupted in schizophrenia”) has been a leading contender among possible genetic causes since it was implicated in schizophrenia in a large Scottish clan two decades ago. The DISC1 gene codes for a protein important for brain development, as well as for mood and memory – functions that are disturbed in schizophrenia. However, until now there have been few clues as to how DISC1 might increase risk for the chronic mental disorder.

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Major NIMH Research Project to Test Approaches to Altering the Course of Schizophrenia

Press Release

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is launching a large-scale research project to explore whether using early and aggressive treatment, individually targeted and integrating a variety of different therapeutic approaches, will reduce the symptoms and prevent the gradual deterioration of functioning that is characteristic of chronic schizophrenia.

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Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Share Genetic Roots

Press Release

gene chip

A trio of genome-wide studies – collectively the largest to date – has pinpointed a vast array of genetic variation that cumulatively may account for at least one third of the genetic risk for schizophrenia. One of the studies traced schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, in part, to the same chromosomal neighborhoods.

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Flow of Potassium Into Cells Implicated in Schizophrenia

Press Release

MRI of brain highlighting differential brain activity

A study on schizophrenia has implicated machinery that maintains the flow of potassium in cells and revealed a potential molecular target for new treatments. Expression of a previously unknown form of a key such potassium channel was found to be 2.5 fold higher than normal in the brain memory hub of people with the chronic mental illness and linked to a hotspot of genetic variation.

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Gene On/Off Instructions Inherited Via Shadowy Mechanism

Science Update

The first large-scale study of its kind in twins has turned up evidence that we inherit instructions for the turning on and off of genes via mechanisms beyond the traditional sequence differences in the genetic code. Moreover, the results suggest that early random errors in replicating these instructions may trump environmental influences in shaping us.

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New Silvio O. Conte Centers Address Brain Development, Disorders

Science Update

With a mandate to use innovative, multidisciplinary research approaches to address important mental health questions, four newly funded centers have begun investigations of schizophrenia, brain development, and adolescent mood disorders.

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Expert Panel Addresses High Rates of Smoking in People with Psychiatric Disorders

Science Update

Numerous biological, psychological, and social factors are likely to play a role in the high rates of smoking in people with psychiatric disorders, according to the report of an expert panel convened by the National Institute of Mental Health. The report reviews current literature and identifies research needed to clarify these factors and their interactions, and to improve treatment aimed at reducing the rates of illness and mortality from smoking in this population.

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Study Probes Environment-Triggered Genetic Changes in Schizophrenia

Science Update

The first study of its kind to pinpoint environment-triggered genetic changes in schizophrenia has been launched with $9.8 million in funding from NIMH. The five-site study seeks telltale marks in the genome that hold clues to how nurture interacts with nature to produce the illness.

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Not All Antipsychotics Created Equal: Analysis Reveals Important Differences

Science Update

An analysis of studies on antipsychotics reveals multiple differences among the newer, second-generation antipsychotics as well as the older medications, and suggests the current classification system blurs important differences, rendering it unhelpful.

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Brain's Wiring Stunted, Lopsided in Childhood Onset Schizophrenia

Science Update

Growth of the brain's long distance connections, called white matter, is stunted and lopsided in children who develop psychosis before puberty, NIMH researchers have discovered.

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Certain Antipsychotic Medications May Increase Risk for Heart Disease

Science Update

Certain atypical antipsychotic medications may raise the risk for heart disease in people with schizophrenia, according to an analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) study.

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New Study to Evaluate Ways to Control Metabolic Side Effects of Antipsychotics

Science Update

A new NIMH-funded grant will examine ways to control the metabolic side effects associated with the use of the newer atypical antipsychotic medications in children with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

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Why “My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went”

Science Update

If, as the song laments, our "get up and go" fades as we get older, it may stem from aging-related changes in a brain reward circuit.

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Gene Variants Force Mental Trade-offs: Efficiency vs. Resiliency

Science Update

Mice genetically engineered to have an over active version of a human gene, like their human counterparts, gain in emotional mettle under stress, but at a cost of less efficient thinking, NIMH scientists have discovered.

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Newer Antipsychotics No Better Than Older Drug in Treating Child and Adolescent Schizophrenia

Press Release

Two newer atypical antipsychotic medications were no more effective than an older conventional antipsychotic in treating child and adolescent schizophrenia and may lead to more metabolic side effects, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Childhood Bedwetting Occurred Twice as Often in Adults with Schizophrenia

Science Update

Childhood bedwetting occurred twice as often in adults with schizophrenia than in their unaffected brothers and sisters, according to a new study from researchers at NIMH.

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Increased Burden of Rare Genetic Variations Found in Schizophrenia

Press Release

People with schizophrenia bear an "increased burden" of rare deletions and duplications of genetic material, genome-wide, say researchers supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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Health Risks Associated with Certain Antipsychotics Warrant Extra Monitoring

Science Update

Some atypical antipsychotics may be more likely than others to cause metabolic and cardiovascular side effects, according to recent analyses using data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE).

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Newer Antipsychotics No Better Than Older Medications in Reducing Schizophrenia-related Violence

Science Update

Antipsychotic medications can reduce the risk of violence among people with schizophrenia, but the newer atypical antipsychotics are no more effective in doing so than older medications, according to a recent analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE).

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Abnormal Surge in Brain Development Occurs in Teens and Young Adults with Schizophrenia

Science Update

Schizophrenia may occur, in part, because brain development goes awry during adolescence and young adulthood, when the brain is eliminating some connections between cells as a normal part of maturation, results of a study suggest. The new report appears online July 8, 2008 in Molecular Psychiatry.

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NIMH Schizophrenia Initiative Featured in Biological Psychiatry

Science Update

An NIMH initiative to fill the gap between advances in basic cognitive neuroscience and practical clinical applications for patients with schizophrenia is the topic of the July 1, 2008 issue of Biological Psychiatry.

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Mice Expressing Human Genes Bred to Help Unravel Mental Disorders

Science Update

New mouse strains engineered to express human genes related to mental disorders are being developed under a recently-launched grant program from NIMH’s Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science.

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Study launched to test possible preventive treatment for schizophrenia in high risk youth

Science Update

NIMH has recently awarded a grant to study whether an intensive computerized training program can help prevent those at high risk of developing schizophrenia from having a first psychotic episode and improve adaptive functioning. The program is based on principles of brain development and resilience and an understanding of the processes that go awry in schizophrenia.

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Rates of Rare Mutations Soar Three to Four Times Higher in Schizophrenia

Press Release

People with schizophrenia have high rates of rare genetic deletions and duplications that likely disrupt the developing brain, according to studies funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

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Scans Reveal Faulty Brain Wiring Caused by Missing Genes

Science Update

An NIMH study using an emerging imaging technology has discovered faulty wiring in the brains of people with Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects some aspects of thinking.

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Tomorrow’s Antidepressants: Skip the Serotonin Boost?

Science Update

New research adds to evidence of potentially better molecular targets in the brain to treat depression and other mental disorders, according to NIMH-funded scientists.

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Scientists Can Predict Psychotic Illness in up to 80 Percent of High-Risk Youth

Press Release

Youth who are going to develop psychosis can be identified before their illness becomes full-blown 35 percent of the time if they meet widely accepted criteria for risk, but that figure rises to 65 to 80 percent if they have certain combinations of risk factors, the largest study of its kind has shown. Knowing what these combinations are can help scientists predict who is likely to develop the illnesses within two to three years with the same accuracy that other kinds of risk factors can predict major medical diseases, such as diabetes.

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Real-World Outcomes in Schizophrenia Are Focus of Two New NIMH Grants

Science Update

Two new NIMH grants are aimed at determining the most accurate methods of measuring how well community-dwelling people with schizophrenia are faring. Results of the project are meant to provide scientists who conduct future research on the effectiveness of treatments with tools that will reflect the truest possible picture of daily-life outcomes.

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Ethnicity Predicts How Gene Variations Affect Response to Schizophrenia Medications

Science Update

Different variations in the same gene influence how well different ethnic groups, and people within the same ethnic group, respond to various antipsychotic medications, report NIMH-funded researchers. If confirmed, their findings could one day help clinicians predict which medication is most likely to help a patient, based on his or her genetic makeup.

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Schizophrenia-Related Gene Linked to Imbalance in Dopamine Pathways

Science Update

Forms of a gene known to increase risk for schizophrenia may create an imbalance in brain pathways for dopamine, suggests a recent study by NIMH scientists.

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How Schizophrenia Develops: Major Clues Discovered

Press Release

Schizophrenia may occur, in part, because of a problem in an intermittent on/off switch for a gene involved in making a key chemical messenger in the brain, scientists have found in a study of human brain tissue.

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Suspect Schizophrenia Genes Act Together to Thwart Working Memory

Science Update

Two gene variants implicated in schizophrenia interact to degrade the brain's ability to process information, NIMH researchers have discovered.

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Violence in Schizophrenia Patients More Likely Among Those with Childhood Conduct Problems

Press Release

Some people with schizophrenia who become violent may do so for reasons unrelated to their current illness, according to a new study analyzing data from the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials for Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE).

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Antipsychotic Medications for Schizophrenia on Equal Footing in Improving Patients’ Thinking Skills

Science Update

Patients with schizophrenia taking antipsychotic medications experience a small improvement in thinking and reasoning skills (neurocognition), but no one medication appears to be better than the others in improving these skills during the first two crucial months of treatment, according to the latest results from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials for Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE).

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New Details in Schizophrenia Treatment Trial Emerge

Press Release

Two new studies from the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials for Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) provide more insights into comparing treatment options, and to what extent antipsychotic medications help people with schizophrenia learn social, interpersonal and community living skills.

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Common Gene Version Optimizes Thinking — but With a Possible Downside

Press Release

Most people inherit a version of a gene that optimizes their brain’s thinking circuitry, yet also appears to increase risk for schizophrenia, a severe mental illness marked by impaired thinking, scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have discovered.

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Gene Variant Linked to Schizophrenia

Science Update

A gene implicated in schizophrenia in adults has now also been linked to schizophrenia in children for the first time, strengthening evidence that the gene plays a role in the disease.

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Older Medication May Be More Cost-Effective for Some Patients with Schizophrenia

Press Release

A new study analyzing the economic implications of the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) concludes that the older (first generation) antipsychotic medication perphenazine was less expensive and no less effective than the newer (second generation) medications used in the trial during initial treatment, suggesting that older antipsychotics still have a role in treating schizophrenia.

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New Schizophrenia Trial: Does Method of Administering Medication Make a Difference?

Science Update

A new clinical trial is testing whether an injection of a long-lasting antipsychotic medication every two weeks results in better adherence to treatment and better outcomes among people with schizophrenia than do oral medications taken daily.

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New Factors Identified for Predicting Violence in Schizophrenia

Science Update

A study of adults with schizophrenia showed that symptoms of losing contact with reality, such as delusions and hallucinations, increased the odds of serious violence nearly threefold.

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Studies ID Molecular Accomplices of Suspect Schizophrenia Genes

Science Update

NIMH-funded researchers have discovered how certain genes work at the molecular level to increase the risk of schizophrenia.

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Studies Offer New Information About Treatment Choices for Schizophrenia — Phase 2 Results

Science Update

A national clinical trial comparing clozapine with other new-generation antipsychotic medications for the treatment of chronic schizophrenia has shown that people who switched to clozapine from their first medication because it failed to manage symptoms adequately were twice as likely to continue treatment as patients who switched to other antipsychotic medications.

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Web Forum Launched for Schizophrenia Researchers

Press Release

Researchers trying to crack one of medicine's most perplexing unsolved mysteries can now keep abreast of late-breaking developments via the Schizophrenia Research Forum, a website launched this month with funding from the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Teens with Deletion Syndrome Confirm Gene’s Role in Psychosis

Press Release

A study in youth who are missing part of a chromosome is further implicating a suspect gene in schizophrenia.

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NIMH Study To Guide Treatment Choices for Schizophrenia (Phase 1 Results)

Press Release

A large study funded by NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provides, for the first time, detailed information comparing the effectiveness and side effects of five medications — both new and older medications — that are currently used to treat people with schizophrenia.

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Brain Scans Reveal How Gene May Boost Schizophrenia Risk

Press Release

Clues about how a suspect version of a gene may slightly increase risk for schizophrenia are emerging from a brain imaging study by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Stress Impairs Thinking Via Mania-Linked Enzyme

Press Release

An errant enzyme linked to bipolar disorder, in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, impairs cognition under stress, an animal study shows.

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Schizophrenia Gene Variant Linked to Risk Traits

Press Release

Researchers at the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have identified a relationship between a small section of one gene, the brain chemical messenger glutamate, and a collection of traits known to be associated with schizophrenia.

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Research to Test Treatment of Cognitive Dysfunction in Schizophrenia

Press Release

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded a four-year, $9 million contract to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and five other academic medical centers to create a network of Treatment Units for Research on Neurocognition and Schizophrenia (TURNS).

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Mental Illness Genetics Among Science’s Top “Breakthroughs“ for 2003

Press Release

Research on the genetics of mental illness, most of it NIMH-funded and much of it in the Institute’s own laboratories, was named the #2 scientific "breakthrough of the year" by Science magazine in its December l9, 2003, issue.

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New Program Will Pursue Schizophrenia Gene Leads

Press Release

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced a new program expanding genetics research on schizophrenia in its own Bethesda, Maryland, laboratories.

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NIMH Awards $22.6 Million for Center for Collaborative Research on Mental Disorders

Press Release

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has funded a five-year, $22.6 million Center for Collaborative Genetic Studies on Mental Disorders at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

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Gene Enhances Prefrontal Function at a Price

Press Release

Studies of a gene that affects how efficiently the brain’s frontal lobes process information are revealing some untidy consequences of a tiny variation in its molecular structure and how it may increase susceptibility to schizophrenia.

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Scans Link 2 Key Pieces of Schizophrenia Puzzle

Press Release

Using functional brain imaging, National Institute of Mental Health scientists for the first time have linked two key, but until now unconnected, brain abnormalities in schizophrenia.

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