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Evolutionarily developed connections compromised in schizophrenia

By Martijn P. van den Heuvel, Lianne H Scholtens, Siemon C. de Lange, Rory Pijnenburg, Wiepke Cahn, Neeltje van Haren, Iris Sommer, Longchuan Li, Todd Preuss, James K Rilling

Posted 09 Aug 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/387506 (published DOI: 10.1093/brain/awz330)

The genetic basis and uniquely human character of schizophrenia has led to the notion of human brain evolution to have resulted in vulnerability to the disorder. We examined schizophrenia-related changes in brain connectivity in the context of evolutionary changes in human brain wiring by comparing in-vivo neuroimaging data from humans, chimpanzees and macaque monkeys. We find that evolutionary changes in human connectome organization overlap with the pattern of schizophrenia-related changes in brain connectivity, with connections evolutionary enhanced in the human brain showing significantly more involvement in schizophrenia pathology than connections shared between humans and non-human primates (effects shown in three independent patient-control datasets). Our findings suggest that the evolution of brain wiring in support of complex brain function in humans may have come at the cost of an increased vulnerability to brain dysfunction in disease.

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