In fact, we know very little about schizophrenia. I realized this when I watched a lecture by Robert Sapolsky, professor of neuroscience at Stanford University, in which the scientist spoke in detail about this disease. So if you don’t know what to see during quarantine, Dr. Sapolsky’s lecture course entitled “Biology of Human Behavior” is available on YouTube in Russian. But back to the mysteries of schizophrenia, and there are a lot of them today. So, in the history of the study of schizophrenia, there is an interesting fact: blind from birth people cannot get schizophrenia. At least so far no such cases have been recorded. Over the past 60 years, scientists around the world have written about this, looking through databases, and unsuccessfully searched for a blind person with schizophrenia from birth. To understand why this phenomenon is of concern to scientists, let's look at what schizophrenia and congenital blindness are, and also what kind of connection exists (and whether) exists between them.
Congenital blindness Is a medical term meaning completelack of vision from the moment of birth. There can be many causes of congenital blindness, however, in 2012, scientists discovered a gene whose activity leads to the development of this ailment. The results are published in the journal Nature Genetics.
Schizophrenia - severe mental illness,characterized by a violation of the coherence of mental processes and a decline in mental activity. For a long time it was considered exclusively a mental illness and only recently have scientists managed to learn more about how the brain of such people works. So, several years ago, scientists found that in the brain of patients with schizophrenia there are extensive violations of the structure of white matter.
White matter Is a tissue that consists of nerve fibers - axonsthat provide a relationship between neurons in different areas of the brain. Needless to say, the connection of neurons is extremely important for the normal functioning of the nervous system.
Symptoms of schizophrenia can be of varying degrees.severity, but in general, patients have a decay of thought processes and emotional reactions. The most common symptoms of schizophrenia are auditory and visual hallucinations, as well as fantastic and paranoid delusions. It is noteworthy that schizophrenia is a hereditary disease that is very difficult to understand from a genetic and evolutionary point of view. However, in recent years, scientists have made great advances in the study of the genetics of this disease, and artificial intelligence has learned to recognize its early symptoms.
How are schizophrenia and blindness related?
The fact that there is not a single patient in the worldschizophrenia of a person blind from birth suggests that congenital blindness somehow protects a person from schizophrenia. Moreover, if you lost your sight in a later period of your life and there are relatives with schizophrenia in the family, then the chances of getting sick significantly increase. In fact, if a healthy person is deprived of sight for several days, then he may experience hallucinations. As you know, patients with schizophrenia often report vision problems, and visual impairment and visual abnormalities are increasingly noted as a harbinger of schizophrenia. But can this data help in finding the answer to the mysteries of schizophrenia and its treatment?
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One of the most important brain functions isthe ability to make predictions about the world. No other animal on Earth is capable of anything like this. Our brain creates models of reality that predict and model what actually happens, without perceiving the world around us in real time. At the same time, vision, although this is not obvious, plays an important role in prediction, as it gives a lot of information about the world and connects other feelings, such as sound and touch. Thus, if a person’s vision is distorted, then the model of the world built by the brain is, as it were, reset. For this reason, the brain makes more and more predictions to explain these inconsistencies, ultimately changing the whole model. However, if you do not see anything, then you cannot experience false visual representations (hallucinations). If blind people from birth cannot use vision to build their model of the world, they rely on other feelings.
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As they write in a work devoted to this phenomenonThe authors of the new study, the idea they are trying to understand, is that people blind from birth should have something that is responsible for a stable view of the world. This stability, in a sense, protects them from the mistakes and false conclusions that are observed in people with schizophrenia. More information about the study can be found on the pages of the scientific journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.
It should be noted that schizophrenia is fullcontradictions that scientists are not yet able to explain. One way or another, whatever the reasons for the lack of schizophrenia in people with congenital blindness, the existence of such a connection is exciting and someday will help to unravel the secrets of the brain. By the way, recently Daria Eletskaya spoke about a very fascinating and unusual way that can prevent the development of schizophrenia in children.