Recent Advances in Schizophrenia Research

A one-day symposium on Recent Advances in Schizophrenia Research was organized by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavior Medicine at the Amrita School of Medicine on January 15, 2013.

“The symposium was meant to shed light on the serious and debilitating effects of schizophrenia on the cognitive, behavioral and social functioning of patients,” explained the organizers. The need for early detection of the disease and adequate biological, psychosocial interventions as well as rehabilitation services was also stressed upon.

Recent Advances in Schizophrenia Research

“Affected individuals lose contact with reality and if left untreated, they may deteriorate in their social, academic and occupational functions,” explained the speakers.

“There are a number of structural and neurophysiological abnormalities that characterize schizophrenia in patients. Overall, abnormalities of synaptic connections and neural circuitry specially those involving the frontal lobe and subcortical structures like the thalamus, are seen. Dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitter system abnormalities are among the most replicated findings in research settings,” delegates further learned.

Among those sharing their insights were Dr. Kuruvilla Mathew, Head of the Department of Psychiatry, MOSC Medical College, Kolenchery and Dr. Praveen Lal Kuttichira, Dean of Research, Kerala University of Heath and Allied Sciences, Trichur.

Recent Advances in Schizophrenia Research

While the former spoke about clinical features of schizophrenia and related disorders of thought such as persecutory delusions, the latter highlighted neurobiology of schizophrenia.

Others who spoke included Dr. D. Raju, Secretary at the State Mental Authority; Prof. Shantakumar, Retired Professor of Psychiatry, Medical College, Calicut and Dr. Bindu Menon, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry.

Discussing cognitive deficits, Dr. Raju emphasized the key role that social cognition played in the patient’s misinterpretation of neutral social stimuli as personally threatening. He also spoke of the cognitive deficits in working memory, information processing and attention impairment that reflected hypofrontality in schizophrenia.

Recent Advances in Schizophrenia Research

Detailing management of schizophrenia, Prof. Shantakumar spoke on the need for psychosocial rehabilitation to reduce disabilities, in addition to pharmacological treatment.

Dr. Bindu highlighted the fact that schizophrenia was a brain disorder with an inherited genetic vulnerability. “Though current therapies often offer only limited relief to patients, there is reason for immense optimism with a lot of progress in research that focuses on the cognitive and core deficits of the disease,” she summed up.

Earlier, Dr. William T. Carpenter, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, University of Maryland, School of Medicine and Director, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center spoke on the latest classification system of mental disorders according to DSM-5 and the modifications made to the earlier version, the DSM-IV-TR.

Recent Advances in Schizophrenia Research

DSM 5 is the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders which is due for publication soon.

Also earlier, the seminar was inaugurated by Sri. Tony Chammany, Mayor of Kochi. The inaugural function was presided over by Swami Poornamritananda Puri.

Others who spoke at the symposium included Dr. Prathapan Nair, Principal, Amrita School of Medicine; Dr. Kesavankutty Nayar, Head of the Department of Psychiatry, Amrita School of Medicine; Dr. Dinesh N., Additional Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Amrita School of Medicine; Prof. C. P. Somasundaram, Head of the Department of Clinical Psychology, Amrita School of Medicine; Prof. K. T. Moly, Principal, Amrita College of Nursing and Dr. Chitra Venkateshwaran, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Amrita School of Medicine.

January 18, 2013
School of Medicine, Kochi

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