Assessing GABAergic Dysfunction in the Prefrontal Cortex of People with Schizophrenia
Uncovering the brain mechanisms underlying memory deficits in schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental illness that is characterised by psychotic episodes (e.g. hallucinations), emotional disturbances and problems with attention and memory. Of these, memory impairment has the largest impact on long-term disability (e.g. occupational status, homelessness) and quality of life. These deficits are present before the onset of other symptoms, suggesting that improving memory may help prevent psychosis in high-risk individuals. Unfortunately, memory deficits do not respond to current treatments, such as medications. Therefore, understanding the brain mechanisms responsible for memory impairment is essential to guide the development of new treatments for schizophrenia.
One mechanism thought to contribute to memory impairment in people with schizophrenia is the balance between excitation (the brain’s accelerator) and inhibition (the brain’s brakes). A major brain chemical that contributes to this balance is called GABA. In this project, we will use brain imaging methods to assess whether we can modulate GABA levels in healthy people and people with schizophrenia using non invasive brain stimulation methods. This research will help uncover the neural mechanisms underlying memory dysfunction in people with schizophrenia, thereby assisting to develop new treatments that may minimize disease severity.