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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2000 Dec;2(4):339-48.

The biology of schizophrenia.

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Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md, USA.


Schizophrenia is an illness where the clinical signs and symptoms, course, and cognitive characteristics are well described. Successful pharmacological treatments do exist, even though they are likely palliative. However, this broad knowledge base has not yet led to the identification of its pathophysiology or etiology The risk factors for schizophrenia are most prominently genetic and scientists anticipate that contributions from the new genetic information in the human genome will help progress towards discovering a disease mechanism. Brain-imaging techniques have opened up the schizophrenic brain for direct inquiries, in terms of structure, neurochemisiry, and function. New proposals for diagnosis include grouping schizophrenia together with schizophrenia-related personality disorders into the same disease entity, and calling this schizophrenia spectrum disorder. New hypotheses of pathophysiology do not overlook dopamine as playing a major role, but do emphasize the participation of integrative neural systems in the expression of the illness and of the limbic system in generating symptoms. Critical observations for future discovery are likely to arise from molecular genetics, combined with hypothesis-generating experiments using brain imaging and human postmortem tissue.


clinical presentation; dopamine; glutamate; pathophysiology; schizophrenia

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