Schizophrenia is an extremely variable psychiatric disorder that is diagnosed based on the presence of specific symptoms. Thomas Wolfers and André Marquand of Radboud university medical center investigated how much the brains of individual patients diagnosed with schizophrenia differ from the 'average' patient.

For this purpose, they compared brain scans of 250 healthy individuals with those of 218 individuals with schizophrenia. Those with schizophrenia as a group differed from the healthy individuals in frontal brain regions, the cerebellum, and the temporal cortex. The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

However, the differences between individuals were great that it is virtually meaningless to speak of the "average patient." Only a few identical differences in the brain occurred in more than two percent of patients.

The brains of individuals with schizophrenia differ so much from the average that the average has little to say about what might be occurring in the brain of an individual. The study shows that almost all individuals with schizophrenia have their biological profile.

Psychiatric Disorders

Este highlights the problems with the current method of diagnosing psychiatric disorders by symptoms According to Marquand: "We can see substantial variation in the brains of different individuals with schizophrenia, but despite this variation, these people get the same diagnosis.

Underlying schizophrenia by simply studying the average patient We need to identify the brain 'fingerprint' of the disorder for the simplyeach individual. The researchers want to create a fingerprint for each brain, documenting the differences about the group average.

Este should lead to a complete picture of each patient. Wolfers: "In practice, psychiatrists and psychologists know very well that each patient is an individual, with their own story, history, and biology."

Therapy for Schizophrenia Patients

Nevertheless, we use diagnostic models that largely Ignore these differences. Este is a long way to go before this research will yield visible results but in the long term. The term, we hope it will lead to better diagnoses and individualized therapies for patients.