Complex Disorders and Diagnosis

While some disorders from last week seem to be associated with specific areas of the brain it is amazing how some disorders involve several brain functions. For instance Schizophrenia involves a number of areas with generally less neural activity in schizophrenic subjects in the Amygdala, Parahippocampal gyrus, Fusiform gyrus, Right superior frontal gyrus… alll leading to a disruption of “an integrated social cognitive network”

Structural brain analysis in Autism reveal Greater volume in the total brain, including the cerebellum, caudate nucleus (area correlated with degree of repetitive movements, the
Caudate is involved in higher order motor control). The disparate regions seem less well organized with inefficient connections, poor integration. Also there appears to be reduced volume in the corpus callosum.


Functionally autistic brain displayd ecreased activity in regions recruited during social cognition (e.g., thinking about others’ emotional states): the Ventromedial PFC and Amygdala. In addition reduction in the Fusiform “face area” so that faces processed more like non-face objects.

Gilihand noted that there is some struggle with brain and diagnosis (adolescents is a cultural construct while HIV a physical disease). So can we take DSM description and predict brain construction? Can bosses or insurance providers require workers to take fMRI to “diagnose” conditions? Probably not at this point. For instance Amygdala and PFC affected in all disorders reviewed this morning so it is hard to find sufficient resolution on fMRI since most other studies have been studied “on average” so “specific” diagnoses would be very difficult.

About Dean G. Blevins

Dr. Dean G. Blevins currently serves as Professor of Practical Theology and Christian Discipleship at Nazarene Theological Seminary. An ordained elder, Dean has ministered in diverse settings and currently also serves at the USA Regional Education Coordinator for the Church of the Nazarene. A prolific author, Dr. Blevins recently co-wrote the textbook Discovering Discipleship and edits Didache: Faithful Teaching, a journal for Wesleyan Education.
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