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Neuroscience: Schizophrenia and Neurotransmitters Essay (Literature Review)

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Updated: Jun 9th, 2022


Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that leaves the affected person unable to differentiate between right and wrong. It involves irregularities that occur within the brain chemicals which usually enable the brain cells to communicate. On the other hand, neurotransmitters are brain messengers that transfer information from one cell to another. These transmitters set themselves together forming circuit-like systems in the brain that process data. If any part of these circuits is destroyed, then the entire system may also fail to work. From the definition of neurotransmitters, it is clear that schizophrenia is caused by the irregular functioning of neurotransmitters. An individual will exhibit symptoms like those related to schizophrenia when neurotransmitters are blocked.

There are no definite known causes of schizophrenia, and just like conditions such as heart diseases which are known to arise from genetic factors, schizophrenia also falls in that category. Research studies have shown that schizophrenia runs in certain families. People who have relatives with this disorder are likely to suffer from the condition. The other causes of schizophrenia include all those factors or conditions that cause changes or affect one or more neurotransmitters in the brain.

There are millions of these transmitters in the brain, and if one is affected or altered, it affects the others since they are all connected. Two main transmitters have been much involved with the cause of schizophrenia. These are dopamine and glutamate which mainly deal with movement and thoughts. This paper explores three articles on schizophrenia and neurotransmitters as well as their contribution to the field of neuroscience.

Andreasen, N.C. (2012) Pharmacist’s Overview of Alcohol Dependence: Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 163 (11): 27-33.

First, we consider the article on pharmacists’ overview of alcohol dependence. It focuses on how alcohol dependence can lead to schizophrenia. According to Barnett and Levitt (2011), alcohol dependencies co-exist with schizophrenia. This has been supported by Ju et al. (2012). Alcohol dependency is a disorder that can be genetically passed and can be psychologically or sociologically triggered. Alcohol dependency has been found to have effects on the different neurotransmitters.

It affects the neurotransmitters that are related to an individual’s mood, drive and cognition. Alcohol dependency alters the neurotransmitters called GABA, which interact with others causing abnormality in their working. This is assumed to be the cause of behaviors like indistinct speech, impaired balance and loss of muscle harmonization and others exhibited by individuals with alcohol dependency disorder.

The treatment of the alcohol dependency disorder would involve both the clinical treatment of schizophrenia and also the counseling on how to abstain or reduce the alcohol consumption rate because both of these are remarkably much related (Scott & Jeffrey, 2010). Physical abnormalities in the brain have been suspected to be causes of schizophrenia. In addition, people with this disorder have physical damage in their brains. The brains of people with this condition are different from those who are normal. Though research has shown that people with schizophrenia have these damages, not all people with the damages are at risk of being affected by the disorder.

This makes this factor not to be a sure measure of the presence of schizophrenia (Scott & Jeffrey, 2010). In this article, the genetic factor causing schizophrenia has been clarified because researchers have found that if an individual’s first-degree relatives have the disorder, then the chance of an individual to be affected is 10%. An individual with second-degree relatives suffering from the condition has increased chances of being affected by the findings in this article.

According to Andreasen (2012), researchers know that certain genes cause schizophrenia, but it has been difficult to use genetics as bases for their research on the cause of schizophrenia. This idea has also been supported by Fava (2012). Kelvin states that if one is exposed to drugs like cannabis Sativa at a tender age, they are prone to this disorder especially if the drug is genetically predisposed in the individual.

Hirvonen, J. & Hietala, J. (2011). Dysfunctional Brain Networks and Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia: Specific Neurotransmitter Systems. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics 17(2): 89–96.

According to the authors of the article, schizophrenia is the main disturbing factor in multiple neurotransmitter circuits. In addition, there is adequate empirical evidence that dopamine schizophrenia is also a major contributing factor in this type of disturbance. On the other hand, the authors are quite categorical that schizophrenia is a hereditary condition. Despite the risky nature of the condition, it is worth noting that neuroimaging has largely addressed the etiology and possible remedy of schizophrenia due to advances in medical technology that have already taken place. In particular, the article attempts to review the in vivo studies on imaging.

The latter area of study targets the characterization of neurochemical phenotypes of the condition. Hence, genetics and dopaminergic alterations are usually common features worth considering when discussing neurotransmitters and schizophrenia (Hirvonen & Hietala, 2011). From this article, it is clear that not only genes are involved in the development of schizophrenia, but also the environment influences a massive part of the development of it. These factors include lack of enough nutrients before birth, difficulties during birth, and many other factors. The authors have also discussed the role of chemical impedance in the brain contributing to schizophrenia.

It is stated that effects on the neurotransmitters lead to a chemical imbalance in the systems of the brain which involves the main affected transmitters leading to this disorder (Morrison, 2006). Researchers have also discovered that schizophrenia is a developmental disorder that results when neurons form erroneous links during fetal growth. It remains inactive till the puberty stage, which is a critical developmental stage, though research shows that the changes come first before the onset of the symptoms. With these findings, scientists are still exploring how genetics impacts the development of schizophrenia.

It is clear just like in the other articles that the sure causes of this disorder have not been found, but researchers are still working to reveal the mystery of this condition. On the causes of schizophrenia, several factors have been discovered, but there are still individuals with all these factors but do not suffer from the condition (Fuller, 2008).

Byron, K.Y. & Bitanihirwe, T.W. (2011). Oxidative stress in schizophrenia: An integrated approach, Neuroscience Biobehavioral Reviews, 35 (3): 878-893.

Byron and Bitanihirwe (2011) are quite categorical that the pathophysiology of schizophrenia is largely caused by oxidative stress. Specifically, when DNA, proteins, and lipids are damaged, the condition may easily develop bearing in mind that the cells become impaired and reduced in terms of functionality. If such damages persist, they may worsen the illness. There are current empirical studies that note that enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant systems may also be altered in the process of cell damage.

In addition, mitochondrial dysfunction, oligodendrocyte abnormalities, and inflammation may also be observed during oxidative stress that leads to schizophrenia. Although the article provides ample literature review on the etiology and progression of schizophrenia, there is a lack of adequate empirical evidence and cross-study on the condition that can be used to draw tangible similarities and conclusions.

Though it has been found that a person from a family with this disorder is more likely to have the same disorder, research is still being done to understand the genetic factors related to schizophrenia. According to Fuller, (2008), Individuals inherit their genes from both their parents, and it is believed that several genes are responsible for increasing chances of developing schizophrenia. Factors like prenatal difficulties, viral infections and various other stressful conditions affect the development of schizophrenia.

The factor of being in family lineages with a history of this disorder also has been found to influence the development of schizophrenia, but it has not yet been understood how these genetic factors influence the development of this disorder. It is not yet certain that a person Fromm a family with a history of the disorder will have it as it is certain that alcohol dependency contributes to this disorder (Hafner, 2012).

Critique and contribution of the articles in neuroscience

In the article on a pharmacist’s overview of alcohol dependence, much focus has been put on alcohol dependency as a major cause of schizophrenia. Although alcohol dependency may be a cause of schizophrenia, it is yet to be proven whether the symptoms a patient exhibits are due to the alcohol dependency effects (Jingchun et al., 2011). In this article, the main cause of schizophrenia has not been discovered and it is only stated that scientists are still researching.

In the other articles, several causes of schizophrenia have been discussed, but still, it has been stated that it is not clear the main cause of this condition, just like in the first article. In all articles, all the researchers have not been able to identify the main cause of the condition. Many findings have not been clarified in the articles, for instance, the fact that the fact some individuals exhibit all the factors claimed to trigger the development of the condition, but they don’t suffer from it in their lifetime (Scott & Jeffrey, 2010). What is clearly shown from the articles is the lack of enough information on the causes of schizophrenia. This is exhibited by the fact that in all the articles the writers state that more research is still being done (Scott & Jeffrey, 2010).

There are some conflicting findings in the finding in the different articles. In one of the articles, it is stated that scientists know that there are genes that are responsible for schizophrenia. In another article, it is stated that most scientists believe that genes don’t cause schizophrenia directly.

The articles have contributed to a vast deal on the study of the brain. In understanding the causes of schizophrenia, the study of the functioning of the brain is highly essential because the brain is responsible for any behavior of an individual who depends on it. From the definition of schizophrenia, the causes of abnormal behavior can only be explained through the study of the functioning of the brain. The studies need to come up with the findings in these articles which are essential in the treatment of other mental disorders like alcohol dependency, epilepsy, and also insanity.

It is also imperative to note that the alcohol dependency condition is not only a clinical matter but also a mental disorder. As a matter of fact, this is a major contribution towards neuroscience bearing in mind that the guidance and counseling approach has been suggested as the best method of managing alcohol dependency. There are myriad other brain-related conditions that can also be managed through guidance and counseling. In addition, information obtained from the articles is also quite conclusive on some of the ways through which the mental health of an individual can be maintained. For instance, identifying factors that can detrimentally contribute towards mental health has been highlighted in the pieces of literature discussed above.

Furthermore, it is also worth noting that some of the health-related factors that lead to schizophrenia are directly or indirectly involved with the brain transmitters. From this discovery, there is an immense of knowledge that has been contributed in the field of neuroscience in regards to how neurotransmitters are instrumental towards the development of schizophrenia.


It is clear that schizophrenia is a mental disorder, which its cause has not been identified though there are leads to the final findings. Many factors have been identified but not fully proven to be the main cause. In the articles are the factors identified are linked to the neurotransmitters and it can be concluded that the main cause of the disorder is the lack of proper coordination in the brain. Remedies to the disorder have not been stated due to the incomplete findings on the causes.

The articles have contributed a vast deal to the already existing information in neuroscience which is an achievement. Other disorders related to schizophrenia have been related to it and how they can be causes of schizophrenia. Remedies to these disorders have been highlighted as well. Though there are many achievements from the research, the main cause of schizophrenia has not been concluded. Hence, the main objective has not been achieved in all the articles.


Andreasen, N.C. (2011). Pharmacist’s Overview of Alcohol Dependence. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 163 (11): 27-33.

Barnett, H. & Levitt, P. (2010). Schizophrenia: Psychological Disorders. New York: InfoBase publishing.

Byron, K.Y. & Bitanihirwe, T.W. (2011). Oxidative stress in schizophrenia: An integrated approach, Neuroscience Biobehavioral Reviews, 35 (3): 878-893.

Fava, G. (2012). Schizophrenia; Basic Neurochemistry. Mental Health business week Journal 78(16): 18-24.

Fuller, E. (2008). Surviving schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Consumers and Providers. New York: Harper Perennial.

Hafner, H. (2012). The Influence of Age and Sex on the Onset and Early Course of Schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry 69(20): 80 – 86.

Hirvonen, J. & Hietala, J. (2011). Dysfunctional Brain Networks and Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia: Specific Neurotransmitter Systems. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics 17(2): 89–96.

Jingchun S. et al. (2011). Application of systems biology approach identifies and validates GRB2 as a risk gene for schizophrenia in the Irish Case Control Study of Schizophrenia (ICCSS) sample, Schizophrenia Research 125( 2–3): 201-208.

Morrison, J. (2006) DSM-IV Made Easy: the Clinician’s Guide to Diagnosis. New York: The Guilford Press.

Scott, T. & Jeffrey, A. (2010). Antipsychotic Trials in Schizophrenia: The CATIE Project. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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