Mar 31, 2017 12:01 PM EDT
Researchers from the University of Iowa Healthcare discovered that stimulating the cerebellum can reduce symptoms of schizophrenia. The study was conducted at the laboratories of Parker and Nandakumar Narayanan of the university's Carver College of Medicine.
While there were already studies conducted using human subjects, the researchers used rats to construct a human model.The researchers conducted an experiment using rats as subjects. To make the rats sh ow schizophrenic characteristics, the dopamine supply to the frontal cortex was cut off. Dopamine is a chemical released by the brain that helps transfer signals to its different areas. Once it is blocked, signals cannot be sent to other areas of the brain. The absence of the signal changed the attitude of the rats as they manifest schizophrenia symptoms, according to Science Daily.
The cerebellum of the rats was stimulated using optogenetics.The researchers observed that the rats returned to their normal selves. They went further by discovering the role of the cerebellum in all the cognitive processes.
While the cerebellum was known to be the "little brain", it was found out to play an important role on the way people perceive and know things. In fact, the researchers from University of Iowa found out that the cerebellum dictates the cortex in activities that pertain to cognition. This "little brain" was the one giving signals to other brain areas on what to do. Without the cerebellum prompting the cortex, cognition abilities are impaired with schizophrenic symptoms taking place, according to Psychology Today
Understanding of the cerebellum, its functions and role will help in the discovery of new drugs for schizophrenia as well as other diseases. Medication for autism, people with Parkinson's disease, addiction, depression and bipolar disorder will be developed and made available.
The findings of Iowa University researchers will have a great impact on mankind. People that show signs of the different disorders mentioned will most likely benefit from the findings.