Much evidence implicates the chemical messenger known as glutamate in brain development. Now, a trio of new studies adds to growing suspicions that disturbed dispersal of this neurotransmitter in two closely related brain areas underlies schizophrenia, a severe mental disorder that afflicts an estimated 1 in 100 adults worldwide.
The investigations link schizophrenia to altered glutamate transmission between the thalamus and the frontal cortex. The thalamus serves as a relay station for messages between the cortex and the rest of the brain. The frontal cortex facilitates social reasoning and analytical thinking. In people, these structures develop anatomical links before birth (SN: 9/1/01, p. 132: Human Brains May Take Unique Turn).