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Book Reviews   |    
Neurodevelopment and Schizophrenia
Reviewed by Frederick J. Frese
Psychiatric Services 2006; doi:
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edited by Matcheri Keshavan, James Kennedy, and Robin Murray; Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 520 pages, $140

Dr. Frese is an assistant professor at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Rootstown, and executive director of the Ohio Adult Recovery Network.

Recently, considerable progress has been made in understanding how schizophrenia develops. The editors of Neurodevelopment and Schizophrenia have tapped the talents of some 56 authorities—including Francine Benes, Jeffrey Lieberman, and Anthony Grace—to produce one of the most richly rewarding reading experiences that I have had in some time.

Some of the book's 24 chapters are particularly relevant for consumers and practicing clinicians. In Chapter 9, Sahebarao P. Mahadik covers recent findings concerning schizophrenia and nutrition. He makes very compelling arguments for including omega-3 essential polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C, in the dietary intake of virtually all persons with schizophrenia.

In Chapter 14, Chih-Ken Chen and Robin Murray reveal new, eye-opening evidence about how serious the consequences can be for people prone to schizophrenia who abuse such drugs as cannabis and amphetamines.

The book's final three chapters focus on the clinical implications of recent research findings.

Some chapters appear to be less immediately relevant for clinicians, and as Michael Rutter suggests in the well-written foreword, there are sections that are "not light bedtime reading."

This caveat is probably most applicable to Chapters 1, 10, and 12, which deal with neurodevelopmental genetics, epigenetics, and transcriptomic DNA microarray analysis, respectively. Although these are among the heaviest of the offerings, they are also among the most interesting. Chapter 1 provides a review of evidence underpinning the status and functioning of some 33 schizophrenia susceptibility genes involved during brain development. This discussion is fascinating, partly because of the many colorful locutions employed. Terms such as "snip," "snap," and "snare"—shorthand for "single nucleotide polymorphism," "synaptosomal associated protein," and "soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive attachment factor protein receptor"—lend a definite alliterative uplift to the information provided.

Although most DNA sequences, particularly those for coding, are not thought to change during one's life, epigenetic modifications do occur. Such changes may have significant influence on regulation of gene expressions. Arturas Petronis presents evidence in Chapter 10 that developmental changes in schizophrenia can be affected by epigenetic factors.

In Chapter 12, David A. Lewis and his associates provide an engaging description of the advent of the use of DNA microarrays as a method for determining and assessing transcriptomes, a technology yet in its infancy but with much promise for advancing our knowledge of brain function as it relates to schizophrenia.

Other chapters address recent findings concerning such topics as magnetic resonance imaging, brain plasticity, cognitive development and long-term functioning after early cerebral insult, limbic and thalamocortical circuits, developmental dysregulation of dopamine neurotransmitting systems, and the role of sex chromosomes and steroids in brain development. Without exception, the contributors to this volume provide fresh, interesting, and valuable material from which all persons with a serious interest in schizophrenia can benefit.

Finally, one cannot complete Neurodevelopment and Schizophrenia without suspecting that some of the material presented here may come to the attention of the folks in Stockholm who present the annual awards for progress in physiology or medicine.

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