Psychology - Brain Structure

HideShow resource information

Brain Structure

Schizophrenia is caused by: brain structure, damage, viral infections and birth complications.

  • S - Brain abnormalities may cause schizophrenia
  • E - Swayze (1990) reviewed 50 studies of schizophrenics and found that many of them had abnormally large amounts of liquid in the cavaties in the brain. 
  • E - This shows that schizophrenia may be down to abnormalities as they're found within schizophrenic's brains.
  • L - This outlines the idea that schizophrenia is down to brain structure. 

Structual Abnormalities usually found:

  • Unusually large corpus callosum
  • High density of white matter in the right, frontal and parietal lobe.
  • Small amounts of grey matter in the temporal lobes.
  • A change in blood flow in the cerebral hemisphere.
  • MRI scans show unusually large ventricular enlargement (this is also seen in non schiz).
  • Hippocampus and the thalamus are all afftected in the brans of schizophrenia. 
1 of 4

Brain Structure - Evaluation

  • S - Evidence supports the brain structure theory.
  • E - Andreasen et al (1990) conducted a well controlled CAT scan study and found significant enlargement of the ventricles in schizophrenics compared to controls. (only men)
  • E - This clearly shows a structual abnormality in schizophrenic's brains.
  • L - This therefore supports the idea that structual abnormalities cause schizophrenia. 
  • S - Schizophrenia may be down to medication causing abnormalities to brain structure.
  • E - Beng-Choon Ito (2010) did a longitudinal correlational study on 211 schizophrenics and found that anti-psychotic drugs have measurable influences on brain tissue loss over time. 
  • E - This suggests that the loss of tissue, hence an abnormality in the brain, is evident in schizophrenics.
  • L - This therefore indicates that brain structual abnormalities play a part in schizophrenics. 
  • S - There are some methodological problems with this approach.
  • E - If reduction in brain tissue/volume is the cause of schizophrenia it doesn't explain why after 30 years, 35% of schizophrenics are classified as 'much improved' because this does not grow back. 
  • E - If brain structure was the cause of schizophrenia there couldn't be an improvement.
  • L - This therefore suggests that the cause may be down to another approach (genetics, cog). 
2 of 4

Drug Therapies

Most schizophrenics will be given drug treatments, mainly being anti psychotics. 

There are 3 categories: 

  • Typical (chlorpromazine) which are the oldest type, which reduce positive symptoms. 
  • Less typical (anti psychotics)
  • A typical antipsychotics (clozapine) which are the newest type, reduces both symptoms. 

Doctors tend to start with the older antipsychotics (chlorpromazine) as they're cheaper, and it also rules out whether they can treat the symptoms rather than skipping them and missing a possible treatment for the schizophrenic. 

Schizophrenics often require a mix of drug therapies to control their schizophrenic symptoms as they can be positive and negative which are treated in different ways. 

3 of 4

Drug Therapies - Evaluation

  • S - Drug therapies don't fully treat schizophrenia.
  • E - Drugs only treat the symptoms and not the cause.
  • E - This means that schizophrenia as an illness is not treated, but simply the symptoms. 
  • L - This means that drug therapies aren't completely effective. 
  • S - Drug therapies may cause issues within themselves.
  • E - Sufferers who take drug therapies are liable to relapse after drugs are discontinued.
  • E - This means that the drugs may lead to addiction/not work in the long term. 
  • L - This therefore suggests that drugs may cause more problems than they solve and are not suitable therapies for schizophrenia. 
  • S - Drug therapies are relatively cheap and easy to administer and have positive effects. 
  • E - Silverman (1987) stated antipsychotics have a positive effect for most schizophrenics, and increased levels of attention and information. 
  • E - This shows that antipsychotics clearly have a positive effect on issues such as alertness and concentration that schizophrenics suffer with. 
  • L - This supports drug therapies as a solution to schizophrenic symptoms. 
  • S - Drug therapies may not be ethically correct.
  • E - Ross & Read argued taking medication emphasises there's something wrong.
  • E - This may frustrate and play on a schizophrenic's mind making symptoms worse.
  • L - This suggests that drug therapies may not be suited to schizophrenia. 
4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Schizophrenia resources »