Schizophrenia in childhood and adolescence.

: Schizophrenia is a disorder characterized by delay in neurodevelopment and by a central disorder of recognition (i.e. with generalized cognitive deficit). Connectivity impairments in the areas of the social brain and cerebellum are the "messenger" of abnormal CNS development in schizophrenia. Processes of neuronal reorganization in cortical and subcortical structures, aberrant forms of pruning, sprouting, and myelinization may play a major role in the pathogenesis of a schizophrenic breakdown. Models of neuroplasticity during adolescence can be connected with models of neurodevelopmental vulnerability and models of neurotoxicity to form an integrated approach in order to better understand premorbid adjustment, onset, and course of schizophrenia. The loss of plasticity and aberrant myelinization lead to a deterioration in cognitive functions, social dysfunction and, in individuals with specific genetic vulnerability, to expression of schizophrenia. This article discusses brain development in relation to the diagnosis of schizophrenia and the basic symptoms of childhood schizophrenia (with early and very early onset) and of adolescent schizophrenia.

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