Why Don't Animals Get Schizophrenia (and How Come We Do)?

 – March 24, 2015  –– 

Science suggests that numerous non-human species suffer from psychiatric symptoms. But there’s at least one mental malady that, while common in humans, seems to have spared all other animals: schizophrenia. Though psychotic animals may exist, psychosis has never been observed outside of our own species. A new study provides clues into how the potential for schizophrenia may have arisen in the human brain and, in doing so, suggests possible treatment targets. It turns out psychosis may be an unfortunate cost of our big brains—of higher, complex cognition. The study, led by researcher Joel Dudley, PhD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai proposed that since schizophrenia is relatively prevalent in humans despite being so detrimental—the condition affects over 1% of adults—that it perhaps has a complex evolutionary backstory that would explain its persistence and exclusivity to humans.

- Joel Dudley, PhD, Assistant Professor, Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Population Health Science Policy, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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