Monday, February 7, 2011

BRAIN IMAGES: Give MU researchers key clues to mental illness

COLUMBIA, 2/7/11  (Beat Byte) --  A first study from the University of Missouri Brain Imaging Center (BIC) may provide clues to treating debilitating disorders. 

"This research has given us better understanding of an area of the brain that may be affected in people with various learning disabilities, autism and schizophrenia," said Nelson Cowan, director of the BIC and Curator's Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences.  "Recent research has shown that people with schizophrenia simply hold fewer items in their working memories, rather having an inability to disregard unimportant items, as previously thought.  Thus, discovering more about working memory will enable scientists to better target schizophrenia, among other disorders."

The study is one of many research projects currently underway at the BIC, where researchers are also studying the neurological effects of eating breakfast on obese people and the effects of medications on the brain.

"Brain imaging makes our behavioral research more powerful because we can better understand the brain and how it functions during different activities and conditions," Cowan said. 
Cowan's research will be published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

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