Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 4th 2016 Contents B34
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, February 4, 2016
A study of 35 families led by a UC San Francisco
psychiatric researcher showed for the first time
that the structure of the brain circuitry known as
the corticolimbic system is more likely to be passed
down from mothers to daughters than from mothers
to sons or from fathers to children of either gender.
The corticolimbic system governs emotional reg-
ulation and processing and plays a role in mood
disorders, including depression.
A large body of human clinical research indicates
a strong association in depression between mothers
and daughters, while many previous animal studies
have shown that female offspring are more likely
than males to show changes in emotion-associated
brain structures in response to maternal prenatal
stress. Until now, however, there have been few
studies that attempted to link the two streams of
research, said lead author Fumiko Hoeft, MD, PhD,
a UCSF associate professor of psychiatry.
The finding does not mean that mothers are nec-
essarily responsible for their daughters depression,
Hoeft said. "Many factors play a role in depression---
genes that are not inherited from the mother, social
environment, and life experiences, to name only
three. Mother-daughter transmission is just one piece
"But this is the first study to bridge animal and
human clinical research and show a possible matri-
lineal transmission of human corticolimbic circuitry,
which has been implicated in depression, by scanning
both parents and offspring," said Hoeft, who directs
the UCSF Hoeft Laboratory for Educational Neuro-
science. The study was published in the Journal of
Neuroscience on January 27, 2016.
The corticolimbic system includes the amygdala,
hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex and ventro-
medial prefrontal cortex. Hoeft and her research team
used non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Study: Emotional brain circuit
passed down through female line
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to measure grey matter volume (GMV) in the cor-
ticolimbic systems of parents and their biological
offspring from 35 healthy families. None of the family
members were diagnosed with depression. The asso-
ciation between mothers and daughters corticolimbic
GMV was significantly greater than that between
mothers and sons, fathers and sons, and fathers and
The study is the first to use MRI in both parents
and their children to study intergenerational trans-
mission of the pattern of brain structures, said Hoeft.
The term "schizophrenia," with its connotation
of hopeless chronic brain disease, should be dropped
and replaced with something like "psychosis spec-
trum syndrome," argues a professor of psychiatry
in The BMJ.
Professor Jim van Os at Maastricht University
Medical Centre says several others have called for
updated psychiatric classifications, particularly regard-
ing the term "schizophrenia." Japan and South Korea
have already abandoned this term.
The official list of mental disorders that doctors
use to diagnose patients is found in ICD-10 (Inter-
national Classification of Diseases, tenth revision)
and DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders, fifth edition).
But Professor van Os argues that the classification
is complicated, particularly for psychotic illness.
Currently, psychotic illness is classified among
many categories, including schizophrenia, schizoaf-
fective disorder, delusional disorder, depression or
bipolar disorder with psychotic features, and others,
he explains. But categories such as these "do not
represent diagnoses of discrete diseases, because
these remain unknown; rather, they describe how
symptoms can cluster, to allow grouping of patients."
"That is how our classification system works. We
don t know enough to diagnose real diseases, so we
use a system of symptom based classification.," said
Professor van Os.
If everybody agreed to use the terminology in ICD-
10 and DSM-5 in this fashion, there would be no
problem, he says. However, this is not what is generally
not exist, says expert
A large body
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