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  • Elizabeth LeVert

Technology leads the way

The main goal of the Lauren Marie LeVert Foundation to Cure Schizophrenia is the Cure. To find a cure, we must first determine causation; the exact causation of Schizophrenia is currently unknown, however, there has been exciting headway made in recent years as a result of technological advances.

Artificial Intelligence has had a huge impact on the world as a whole, and the Health and Mental Health Industries are no different. The ability to condense, compile and analyze large sets of data gives researchers in the Medical Industry the opportunity to study the research done in a quicker time frame than the traditional methods. Thus, essential information, main findings and conclusions on research and new studies are able to be analyzed and absorbed quickly. Artificial Intelligence also impacts how the Health Industry cares for patients. Not just by storing and analyzing patient files and history more accurately, but also by identifying patients’ traits, genetics, environmental factors and medical history to provide personalized medicine tailored for each individual. This goes for the Mental Health Industry as well; personalized medicine is always the goal of Mental Health Care as each individual’s mental health afflictions exhibit themselves based on a variety of factors including but not limited to genetics, environmental factors, medical history, substance abuse history, etc meaning that two individuals suffering from the same ailment may present completely different symptoms. Artificial intelligence makes compiling the data and creating a personalized care plan for Mental Health patients more efficient and effective.

Advances in technology are not solely related to Artificial Intelligence alone. Advances in scanning and imaging have had a huge impact on our ability to understand ailments such as Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. Previously, any hypothesis on brain function effects and possible causation of Schizophrenia/Bipolar disorder could only be done on postmortem brain samples. Researchers at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences conducted a new study and published the findings in January of 2020 in which they were able to utilize a tracer that can be detected on a PET scan of a live brain. The research team used this method to investigate a hypothesis from the 1980s that believed Schizophrenia was caused by dysfunctional synapses in the brain. The tracer used binds to a specific protein in the brain, SV2A (synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A); the findings were that the synaptic protein SV2A were lower in the front parts of the brain in people with Schizophrenia giving headway to a possible causation finding for the disease.

Brain Function has long been suspected as possible causation of Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses and it is exciting to see how new research is providing proof of these theories; a team out of the University of California, San Diego recently published new findings in March 2021. The team used electroencephalography (EEG) to “measure brain waves across a broad spectrum of frequencies.” Unlike other studies that have been done using EEG to measure the patterns of brainwaves in Schizophrenic patients, this study focused on the patterns of the brain waves while the brain was in a resting state. The team found widespread patterns of hyperconnectivity in the frontal, temporal, and occipital regions of the brain. The two primary abnormalities in resting-state networks were identified and researchers believe that the abnormal activation may be the root cause (or at least a contributing factor) of symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. The abnormalities may also explain problems Schizophrenia patients have assessing the relative importance of incoming sensory information.

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