Interesting questions we are asking about schizophrenia

Dr Tertia Purves-Tyson“Some of the interesting questions we are asking about schizophrenia include why are adolescent boys at the highest risk for schizophrenia onset and what makes the adolescent brain more vulnerable?”

“It is known that circulating testosterone crosses the blood brain barrier and many neurons in the brain respond to testosterone.  I am investigating how testosterone may change a brain chemical, dopamine, involved in brain maturation and reward – an important motivator in the life of adolescent boys”.

“I have shown that testosterone does indeed modulate this brain chemical. We speculate that in the brains of people with an underlying susceptibility to schizophrenia, increasing testosterone at adolescence contributes to pushing them toward a high dopamine state which may then result in psychosis – the hallmark of schizophrenia”.

“Although there is a long way to go, we are making important steps towards understanding how testosterone may contribute to the precipitation of dopamine–related symptoms typical of schizophrenia”.

Dr Tertia Purves-Tyson
Senior Research Officer
Schizophrenia Research Laboratory, Neuroscience Research Australia

Author: Sharon Quill

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