- Schizophrenia: patients usually have less brain tissue
- Major Depression: scans show less brain activity in depressed brain
- Alzheimer’s: brain tissue significantly shrinks, hippocampus is usually the first region to go
- ADHD: less brain activity in the frontal cortex (area associated with decision making)
- OCD: high brain activity
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): hippocampal volume reduction (area involved in memory) and increased activation of the amygdala (area involved in emotional responses)
This is so important! I usually don’t reblog posts but people need to understand that mental illnesses are NO CHOICE! You cannot get over it, or snap with your fingers and just be okay again. It takes constant fixing and a lot of strength to get out of this.
So to everyone who judges people with mental disorders: people don’t get a choice to develop a disorder or not, but being stupid and telling them to get over it is a choice.
PLEASE DONT JUDGE THINGS UNLESS YOU UNDERSTAND!
Okay, everyone probably knows by now that one of my little pet peeves is badly published ‘science’ without criticism or reflection.
And while yes, mental illness is very, very real I would advise people not to jump on the ‘neuroscience as unquestionable fact’ bandwagon -it’s an incredibly young science with major flaws. And even at that, this post gives you no actual scientific information except for a few impressive looking brain scans.
So here’s a few reasons why you shouldn’t assume that these scans tell us anything about mental illness (as they are presented here).
- There is no mention of the method of the tests or even what the hypothesis or theory behind these snippets of research were. Cognitive neuroscience is not about putting a person in the scanner and hitting the on button. It is about studying the brain while it is in action, none of these scans tell you what task elicited these activities, they tell you nothing about the patient’s history aside from a singular diagnoses, they tell you nothing about the controls in place for the study.
- The issue about patient history is a big one. The main problem with studying the brains of people diagnosed with schizophrenia is that neuroleptics have a massive effect of the brain, and so any differences in brain function or mass could be caused by the medication. (And it is very, very ethically questionable to refuse to medicate a person with schizophrenia for the sake of research, so I highly doubt that’s the case here.)
- Brain volume and activation tells you very little about the mechanism of the disorder, while the disorder is brain based it is widely accepted that disregulation of neurotransmitters is really what is key.
- And the big one, the massive one, and the real problem with neuroscience at it’s very heart - THESE TELL YOU NOTHING ABOUT CAUSATION! You cannot say, from these scans, whether a decrease in brain function causes depression, or whether depression causes a decrease in brain function.
Basically, what these scans are showing is what we already know about mental illness just by looking at a persons behaviour. A depressed person has depressed brain activation - who’d have thought it? This is basically a description of what we already know, but this time it’s through ‘scientific scans’ to make the work seem more valid and impressive. When really it’s just too reductionist to be helpful and offers absolutely no new insights into the mechanism of mental illness or any tips into effective treatments.