From Traffic jam in brain causes schizophrenia symptoms:
"Schizophrenia waits silently until a seemingly normal child becomes a teenager or young adult. Then it swoops down and derails a young life.
Scientists have not understood what causes the severe mental disorder, which affects up to 1 percent of the population and results in hallucinations, memory loss and social withdrawal.
But new research from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has revealed how schizophrenia works in the brain and provided a fresh opportunity for treatment. In a new, genetically engineered mouse model, scientists have discovered the disease symptoms are triggered by a low level of a brain protein necessary for neurons to talk to one another.
A Traffic Jam in Brain
In human and mouse brains, kalirin is the brain protein needed to build the dense network of highways, called dendritic spines, which allow information to flow from one neuron to another. Northwestern scientists have found that without adequate kalirin, the frontal cortex of the brain of a person with schizophrenia only has a few narrow roads. The information from neurons gets jammed up like rush hour traffic on an interstate highway squeezed to a single lane.
"Without enough pathways, the information takes much longer to travel between neurons and much of it will never arrive," said Peter Penzes, assistant professor of physiology at the Feinberg School. .....
This discovery opens a new direction for treating the devastating cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia," Penzes said. "There is currently no treatment for that. It suggests that if you can stimulate and amplify the activity of the protein kalirin that remains in the brain, perhaps we can help the symptoms." "