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Research Uncovers Key Differences in Brains of Women and Men With Schizophrenia
Newswise — NEW YORK, NY (October 30, 2018) Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have found clear disparities in the way males and females—both those with schizophrenia and those who are healthy—discern the mental states of others.
The research, the first of its kind, will be published online on October 30, in Social Neuroscience.
The research team examined emotional processing in 37 clinically stable participants diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, compared with 31 healthy controls. Subjects identified emotions of other people by looking at pictures of eyes and listening to stories. Smell tests were also administered to measure odor detection and odor identification ability. Most animal species rely on their sense of smell to determine the intentions of other animals. Intelligence scores measured more complex brain processing and olfactory or scent scores measured simpler mental processing.
They found that females without schizophrenia used more complex areas of their brains to identify someone else’s mental state, including other’s beliefs, desires, intentions, and emotions. The healthy males used less complex brain regions to process others’ mental states.
Both women and men with schizophrenia used less complex brain regions to process the emotional states of others. Men with schizophrenia used less complex brain regions for processing than healthy men.
“Women and men are fundamentally different, and it is critical to perform sex-specific research across psychiatry and all of medicine,” said the study’s senior author, Dolores Malaspina, MD, Director, Psychosis Program, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Sex-stratified research is essential for studying social processes in general and especially for conditions such as schizophrenia that present differently in women and men.”
“The neurocircuitry of olfaction is very closely related to the neurocircuitry for emotional processing,” said the study’s first author, Julie Walsh-Messinger, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Dayton. “So the interaction between the two might be a window to better understanding schizophrenia.”
The research team plans to study what causes the differences in sexes in their olfactory responses in the future.
This work was supported by National Institutes of Mental Health grants RC1MH088843, 2K24MH00169, and R01MH066428.
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The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City’s largest integrated delivery system encompassing seven hospital campuses, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai’s vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Medical Schools”, aligned with a U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” Hospital, it is ranked as a leading medical school for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation’s top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Neurology/Neurosurgery, and in the top 50 in six other specialties in the 2018-2019 “Best Hospitals” issue. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmology and 44th for Ear, Nose, and Throat, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. For more information, visit http://www.mountsinai.org/, or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.