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Psychology essay: Outline and evaluate biological therapies for schizophrenia

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Introduction

´╗┐Psychology essay: Outline and evaluate biological therapies for schizophrenia One biological explanation for schizophrenia is that genetics are the cause as certain individuals possess genes which predispose them to schizophrenia. An effective way of investigating the genetic link with schizophrenia is by looking at studies that determine whether the schizophrenics closer related relatives are more affected than the distantly related relatives. Twin studies compares monozygotic twins, who share 100% of their genes, with dizygotic twins, who share 50% of their genes. Joseph (2004) conducted a meta-analysis on twin studies carried out prior to 2004. He found a concordance rate of 40.4% for monozygotic twins and 7.4% for dizygotic twins. However, more recent and methodologically sound studies, that use blind diagnosis, tend to report a lower concordance rate for monozygotic twins. Despite this, the findings support a genetic link as the concordance rate for monozygotic twins is significantly higher in comparison to dizygotic twins. Although twin studies show a clear genetic link with schizophrenia, they also provide evidence for the environment playing a part as the concordance rates of monozygotic twins is not 100%. ...read more.

Middle

The diathesis-stress relationship combines both nature and nurture. Furthermore, the majority of studies are non-scientific as they are not conducted in a lab so extraneous variables which are not controlled could be a contributing factor in the development of schizophrenia. Another biological explanation for schizophrenia is the dopamine hypothesis. Dopamine is a vital neurotransmitter in the brain which controls a persons ability to guide attention and an abnormal amount could therefore result in problems with attention, perception and thought. The dopamine hypothesis states that the messages from the neurons that transmit dopamine fire too frequently resulting in an access of dopamine. Schizophrenics are thought to have an abnormally high number of D2 receptors on receiving neurons resulting in more dopamine binding and consequently more neurons firing. The evidence for the influence of dopamine in the development of schizophrenia derives from the use of anti-psychotic drugs and Parkinson's Disease. The majority of anti-psychotic medications block the activity of dopamine in the brain by reducing stimulation of the dopamine system. ...read more.

Conclusion

He also found that the post-mortems of schizophrenic patients who hadn?t been prescribed medication showed normal levels of dopamine. Moreover, the development of advanced neuroimaging techniques, like PET scans, have allowed scientists to investigate dopamine activity more closely than previous studies which relied on metabolites of the dopamine system. Despite this, studies have failed to provide enough convincing evidence to support the claim that excess dopamine is the cause of schizophrenia. A possible explanation for the results of recent studies not being consistent enough could be a problem with the classification of schizophrenia. Many psychologists are in disagreement as to what schizophrenia actually is and although the DSM-IV-TR clearly states the features of schizophrenia, many patients nowadays are often incorrectly diagnosed with the disorder. The dopamine hypothesis is also reductionistic, which is the case with most biological approaches, as it suggest that schizophrenia is solely due to an increase of dopamine in the brain. However, the hypothesis is a scientific approach which is a positive as the theory can be supported by the use of scientific studies. Despite this, a lot of scientific evidence is not convincing enough, for example the PET scans, and extraneous variables are not controlled. ...read more.

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