Brain networks and schizophrenia
Introduction One of Robin Murray’s greatest scientific influences has been and continues to be his advocacy of neurodevelopmental theories of schizophrenia. These ideas inevitably have stimulated major efforts by his research group at the Institute of Psychiatry to use neuroimaging to map brain abnormalities in adults with schizophrenia and to understand the causes and generative mechanisms of these imaging phenotypes in terms of genetic effects and brain developmental processes. Here I briefly review some of the relevant “School of Murray” and other magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies addressing these issues and conclude that: (i) there is now strong evidence that human brain structure is normally organized in the form of complex networks, which show developmental changes in their organization; and (ii) that brain structure is abnormal in schizophrenia, and these abnormalities exist at the level of systems or networks rather than single regions. There is also some good but limited evidence that abnormalities of brain structure are linked to genetic risk for schizophrenia, may arise early in development, and show dynamic or progressive changes in the period around the onset of the psychotic syndrome in early adults. This is a scientific direction of travel that still has some way to go but has already made a substantial difference to how we think about schizophrenia, as an adult outcome of abnormal neurocognitive network formation.