Clinical: Developmental Psychology

Spec Check: Issues around genes and mental health, such as a genetic or biochemical explanation for schizophrenia, can affect development.

Is schizophrenia a developmental disorder?

Some researchers believe that schizophrenia is neurodevelopmental disorder. For example, Thomas Insel (2010) believes that schizophrenia stems from abnormalities in early brain development, starting in the first few weeks of gestation. He suggests that people who exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia in their late teens and early 20s, often exhibit similar prodromal (before diagnosis) symptoms, including not hitting typical cognitive milestones in the first year of life. He also notes that the genetics of schizophrenia overlap with the genetics of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders but explains that it is unclear why some children develop autistic symptoms from the age of 3 and others show symptoms of schizophrenia aged 18.

Causes of serotonin and glutamate irregularity

Animal research by Terell Holloway and colleagues (2013) has shown that maternal stress during pregnancy alters the expression of serotonin and glutamate receptors in the frontal cortex, leading to schizophrenia-like behavior in adult mice. This research highlights the importance of early environmental factors in the development of the disorder.