Thought disorder in schizophrenia is worsened by stress exposure, and is associated with profound dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex, a newly evolved brain region that subserves higher cognition. Prefrontal gray matter is lost as patients descend into illness, and neurons lose vital connections. Research shows that these newly evolved prefrontal circuits are uniquely regulated at the molecular level, and are particularly sensitive to stress exposure. These findings help to explain how a variety of genetic insults can weaken prefrontal cortical function in schizophrenia, and has begun to provide strategies for novel therapeutics to protect neuronal connections.
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