The key to the findings is varying levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that sends signals to other nerve cells in the brain's striatum. People with psychosis have an increased level of dopamine in the striatum, which is associated with learning.
fMRI shows dysfunction in the striatum, which is associated with psychosis risk. Image credit: John Kerns.
Using a feedback-based learning task, lead author Nicole Karcher and colleagues found that people at risk for psychosis are impaired when they need to rely on feedback to learn. More specifically, fMRI brain scans revealed that the striatum failed to activate in people at risk for psychosis when they received feedback, according to study results published online March 24 in Schizophrenia Bulletin.
The researchers hope the findings will help mental health professionals better understand how to treat patients with psychoses and prevent the onset of psychosis.
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