The connection is important


I have been avoiding to a certain extent the nature of consciousness in some disease conditions. This is because I feel unqualified to say much about medical treatments of conditions I do not have myself. Here is an exception to my rule of thumb.

It is becoming clear that a number of mental conditions are caused by abnormal connections between areas of the brain. Other conditions may be caused by chemical imbalance, cell death and so on but now conductivity has to be added to the consideration of a wide range of conditions.

ScienceDaily had an item on how the disruption in brain connection is linked to the genetic defect in schizophrenia. (here)

…researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have illuminated how a genetic variant may lead to schizophrenia by causing a disruption in communication between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex regions of the brain, areas believed to be responsible for carrying out working memory. Findings are published in the current online edition of Nature.

…”We now know that one of the consequences of that deletion (genetic marker found in many schizophrenics) is to disrupt functional communication between these two brain regions, and we have evidence from the study that the disruption actually has an impact on a cognitive behavior that is disrupted in patients, so it gives us a really strong indication of how the deletion can contribute to the development of schizophrenia. “It is possible that similar abnormalities in functional connectivity may also account for other symptoms of the disease, and can be used to better assess treatment response, and, most importantly, to develop new medications.”

As working memory is part of consciousness or closely associated with it, we can expect this connectivity fault to produce some of the abnormal consciousness found in schizophrenia.

Other looks at connection abnormalities and mental conditions are available. In a recent New Scientist article about deep brain stimulation (here) there is mention of the treatment of a number of conditions: Parkinsons, bipolar disorder, Tourette’s, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression. The researchers into DBS treatment of depression theorize that what is being treated by the stimulation is problems with connectivity in neural networks.

My struggle to overcome dyslexia felt (from the inside) like attempts to form links between speech and phonemes and letters. I thought of them as alternative paths for the ones that seemed blocked.

One thought on “The connection is important

  1. I think that the key to mental health is neither an individual area of the brain nor its total content and volume. What is important is the network over which information is transmitted and integrated?
    This brings to mind that In network theory, a node’s relationship to other networks is more important than its own uniqueness. Similarly, today we situate ourselves less as individuals and more as the product of multiple networks.

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