The PRISM consortium’s principal aim is to help accelerate the development of treatments for neuropsychiatry conditions such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s dementia and major depression. Currently these disorders are classified by the symptoms observed by a doctor, most often a psychiatrist or neurologist. Unlike the diagnoses of other diseases, this classification does not involve any measurement of the biological problems causing the symptoms or the need for a deeper understanding of the latter.
The project will therefore probe the biological brain systems of traditionally diagnosed schizophrenic and dementia patients using a wide range of state of the art quantitative technologies.This data will then be analysed blind as to the original diagnosis to see if the patients can be clustered and differentiated based on the underlying impaired brain biology.
Brain disorders and common symptoms
Many behavioural phenomena and symptoms are common across psychiatric and neurological disorders. Social withdrawal for example is one of the earliest symptoms seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia or major depression and is discussed as an early indicator of cognitive deficits. It is recognized by patients pulling away from their social networks established in work places and friendship circles. PRISM aims to understand better the biological reasons underlying social withdrawal and cognitive deficits to accelerate the development of new treatments for these neuropsychiatric disorders.