Psychiatric disorders have common biological basis, studies suggest

SAN ANTONIO (Feb. 18, 2015) — People with schizophrenia, depression and addiction share several brain abnormalities in common, according to new studies that utilized the Research Imaging Institute and BrainMap database ( at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The findings suggest that a common biological basis underlies many mental health disorders, and that this might be targeted for diagnostic purposes and novel treatments.

Researchers from Stanford University and the University of Cambridge led the studies, which utilized the brain atrophy section of BrainMap, a database of published functional and structural neuroimaging experiments, said Peter T. Fox, M.D., director of the Research Imaging Institute and professor in the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center.

The researchers found similar gray-matter loss in the brains of study participants with diverse diagnoses. “Both studies make the point that psychiatric disorders have several brain-imaging abnormalities in common, despite being ostensibly different diseases,” Dr. Fox, a co-author on both papers, said.

The studies appeared in two high-impact journals, Brain and JAMA Psychiatry, respectively. Dr. Fox’s work is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health.

The number of publications utilizing BrainMap data and software now exceeds 460, Dr. Fox said. BrainMap, conceived in 1988, is a copyrighted electronic compilation and a registered trademark of the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.


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