Schizophrenia and Brain Asymmetry: New Insights

New large-scale study shows alterations in language areas in schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a devastating mental health issue that affects about 1% of Americans. Its symptoms can be quite different from patient to patient. Common symptoms include hearing voices and other forms of hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, as well as problems with thinking, and incoherent speech. All these symptoms represent issues with brain functions such as speaking or thinking. Therefore, scientists have conducted many studies looking for changes in the structure of the brains of patients with schizophrenia compared to healthy volunteers, as this may be helpful in understanding the reasons for schizophrenia and potentially creating new ideas for better treatments.
One leading theory suggests that schizophrenia is related to a reduction of so-called hemispheric asymmetries in the language system. In almost all people, brain networks on the left side of the brain are controlling language. In schizophrenia, this leftward asymmetry may be reduced, which may be related to common language issues in patients, such as hearing voices that are not really there. While this is an intriguing theory, previous research studies have yielded very inconsistent results, possibly because the number of people tested in most studies was rather low.
A new study on brain asymmetries and schizophrenia
A new study by the ENIGMA consortium, now published in the journal PNAS, tackled this problem by conducting the largest-ever study on brain asymmetries in schizophrenia (Schijven et al., 2023). The international research team analyzed magnetic resonance imaging data from 5,080 patients with schizophrenia and 6,015 controls. Magnetic resonance imaging is a neuroimaging technique that uses magnets to create high-resolution pictures of the brain. It is commonly used in hospitals for diagnosing different disorders, such as tumors in the brain. In addition to that, it is commonly used in psychological and neuroscientific research in order to assess the brain structure of patients and healthy people.
The scientists compared asymmetries in the thickness of the cortex of the brain between patients with schizophrenia and controls. They found asymmetry differences between the two groups in two brain areas: the rostral anterior cingulate (a brain area related to emotion and cognitive control) and the middle temporal gyrus (a key area for language). Both effects were caused by a thinner cortex on the left side of the brain in patients with schizophrenia compared to controls. This finding is in line with idea that language lateralization is altered in schizophrenia as these changes in the structure of speech area may cause altered function of the speech network.
A further whole-brain analysis of asymmetries revealed that all together, 7% of the variation in brain asymmetries was associated with the status of the participants (schizophrenia patients or control). This suggests broader changes in asymmetries across the brain in schizophrenia that are not limited to language regions. Taken together, the findings of the study show how large-scale neuroscientific studies in patients with mental disorders can be very informative in understanding the potential reasons why patients experience certain symptoms. Further analyzing the brain regions identified in the study using modern neuroscientific and molecular methods may be helpful in understanding the mechanisms behind schizophrenia and finally creating better treatments for patients suffering from this agonizing disorder.

psychology today

20 replies
  1. Alireza noche
    Alireza noche says:

    All mental health problems are related to childhood and adolescence. In part, people in society are affected by psychosis, which is one of the most destructive with different mental symptoms of schizophrenia.

  2. Paniz shhabazi
    Paniz shhabazi says:

    In addition to hallucinations, delusions, mental and speech problems, the symptoms of schizophrenia include depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social withdrawal, and anorexia. If I am not mistaken, this disease cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with the help of psychologists and psychiatrists.

  3. زهرا بابائی
    زهرا بابائی says:

    It was very interesting for me to know what reasons there could be, each of us sometimes make mistakes and sometimes others get confused due to incorrect arguments. Not only the content but also the comments of the children, useful content can be obtained.

  4. Dorsa dehghani fard
    Dorsa dehghani fard says:

    Dorsa dehghani fard
    Schizophrenia is one of a series of mental illnesses in which a person does not have a correct understanding of the behavior around him and sometimes has verbal problems. Schizophrenia is associated with delusions, paranoia and hallucinations.
    One theory suggests that schizophrenia is associated with a reduction in so-called hemispheric asymmetry in the language system.
    In schizophrenia, this asymmetry on the left side may be reduced.
    In schizophrenic patients, two brain regions, the rostral anterior cingulate and the middle temporal gyrus, are thinner on the left side.
    It can be said that the development of schizophrenia has physical aspects in addition to hereditary, environmental and psychological aspects.

  5. Davood galedari
    Davood galedari says:

    Many mental disorders are associated with visible effects in the brain, nerves and glands, which increases the hope of effective treatment in these disorders.

  6. Marzieh Hezbi
    Marzieh Hezbi says:

    i am Marzieh Hezbi from iranian unoversity. i really symmetry of the brain was so important!

  7. zahra kakavand
    zahra kakavand says:

    Obsession is one of the most common disorders, even more prevalent than bipolar disorders and schizophrenia. Thoughtful and practical obsession affects all the daily affairs of life. It affects everything from personal, professional and economic issues to major and general social and fateful issues. In modern psychological studies and researches, more attention is paid to social-psychological and neuroscience effects, to interdisciplinary knowledge than in the past.
    Obsession covers a wide spectrum from simple and intangible disorder to severe morbid disorder. Obsessive thoughts are repetitive.
    Obsessive habits are related to a person’s personality and affect emotional, functional and emotional behaviors. Among the two types of individual behavior, introversion or neuroticism and extroversion, and behavior based on empathy and trust, etc., the extroverted personality is less inclined to intellectual and behavioral obsessions

  8. Nadia Norouzi
    Nadia Norouzi says:

    Hi, I hope you will be fine
    Your article related to schizophrenia was really perfect and there is no place for any comments or questions, thank you

  9. Shirin farrokh
    Shirin farrokh says:

    Someone who I know is schizophrenic and always thinks that people are chasing him. I heard that he got this problem after a mental shock.I hope that a definitive cure for his disease will be found through research

  10. fatemeh zare
    fatemeh zare says:

    Hello, dear teacher, good time, this article was very good and made me learn new things about schizophrenia. With these definitions, I am very eager to research this further and experience a therapy session with a schizophrenic person.

    I am fatemeh zare from Iranian University

  11. Farzaneh jornabian
    Farzaneh jornabian says:

    The article was excellent. Among other symptoms of schizophrenia, it reduces social withdrawal and apathy

  12. Niloofar Khoshdel
    Niloofar Khoshdel says:

    Hello, my dear professor, I am niloofar khoshdel from Iranian University. My question is, is physical (brain) treatment also done for these people in addition to psychotherapy?

  13. Niloofar Khoshdel
    Niloofar Khoshdel says:

    Hello, my dear teacher, good time, it was very interesting for me and before reading this article, I thought that schizophrenia is only a mental illness and not biological or physical! My question is, is physical therapy also done to treat these people? I am very happy to meet your knowledgeable site

    I am niloofar khoshdel from Iranian University


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