Brains of people who suffer from schizophrenia may attempt to repair damage caused by the disease, suggesting an adult brain's capacity to change and grow.
Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert, Dipesh Joshi and their colleagues from Neuroscience Research Australia studied the brains of 38 schizophrenic people and 38 normal people, focussing on one of the hardest-hit regions -- the orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in regulating emotional and social behaviour.
Most neurons, brain cells that transmit information, are found in tissue near the surface of the brain. However, in the brains of people with schizophrenia, the team found a high density of neurons in deeper areas, the journal Biological Psychiatry reports.
"For over a decade, we have known about the high density of neurons in deeper brain tissue in people with schizophrenia. Researchers thought these neurons were simply forgotten by the brain and somehow didn't die off like they do during development in healthy people," says Weickert, according to a Neuroscience statement.
"What we now have is evidence that suggests these neurons are derived from the part of the brain that produces new neurons, and that they may be in the process of moving. We can't be sure where they are moving to, but given their location it is likely they are on their way to the surface of the brain, the area most affected by schizophrenia," Weickert concluded.