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PSYC 211 - Chapter 16


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CHAPTER 16: SCHIZOPHRENIA AND THE AFFECTIVE DISORDERS Schizophrenia Description Schizophrenia – a serious mental disorder characterized by disordered thoughts, delusions, hallucinations, and often bizarre behaviours. Afflicts approximately 1% of the world’s population but its monetary cost to society is enormous, (exceeds costs of cancer in the United States) Three categories of symptoms; positive, negative and cognitive. o Positive symptoms – symptoms of schizophrenia evident by their presence: delusions, hallucinations, or thought disorders. Includes thought disorders – disorganized, irrational thinking. Probably most important symptom of schizophrenia. Also includes delusions – beliefs that are clearly in contradiction to reality. Delusions of persecution are false beliefs that others are plotting and conspiring against oneself. Delusions of grandeur are false beliefs in one’s power and importance. In delusions of control , the person believes that he or she is being controlled by others. Lastly, includes hallucinations – perceptions of nonexistent objects or events. o Negative symptoms – symptoms of schizophrenia characterized by the absence of behaviours that are normally present: social withdrawal, lack of affect, and reduced motivation. Anhedonia – inability to experience pleasure o Cognitive symptoms – symptoms of schizophrenia characterized by deficits in sustained attention, psychomotor speed, learning and memory, abstract thinking, and problem solving. Psychomotor speed – the ability to rapidly and fluently perform movements of the fingers, hand and legs. Symptoms of schizophrenia typically appear gradually, over a period of three to five years. Usually negative appear first, followed closely by cognitive, and years later, positive. Heritability Either several genes are involved in schizophrenia or the “schizophrenia gene” imparts a susceptibility to develop the disorder, and it is later triggered by other factors. Studies have found that children of older fathers are more likely to develop schizophrenia o Sperm cells divide every sixteen days and by the time a man is much older, they have divided so many times that a replication error is more likely in the DNA. No single gene has been located that can be called a “schizophrenic gene” 1
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Abnormalities in non-coding RNAs may be responsible for excessive or inadequate amounts of normal proteins during critical stages of development, which could also have deleterious effects. Pharmacology of Schizophrenia: The Dopamine Hypothesis The Dopamine Hypothesis – suggests that the positive symptoms of schizophrenia are caused by overactivity of synapses between dopaminergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area and neurons in the nucleus accumbens and amygdala.
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