Schizophrenia: What If Nature Confused the Sexes?

    Reversal of Sexual Dimorphism in People with Schizophrenia

    MONTREAL, March 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The brain of a schizophrenic woman
possesses masculine qualities while that of a man with the same disease has
feminine attributes, according to a recent study by Dr. Adrianna Mendrek from
Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital. The researcher
will present her findings as part of the first Scientific Day of the Chair of
Sex, Gender and Mental Health of the Institute of Gender and Health (IGH), one
of the 13 Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHRs). The event will be
held tomorrow, Friday, March 27, at Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital.
    "We have noted a masculinization of the female brain and a feminization
of the male one in schizophrenics. There is a real sexual reversal in men and
women with schizophrenia in terms of neuronal circuits, the dimensions of
certain cerebral structures and the production of hormones. We therefore
sought to find out whether there are similar differences in terms of cerebral
functions," explains Adrianna Mendrek, who is also a researcher associated
with the Université de Montréal's Department of Psychiatry.
    "We thus studied cerebral activation in people with schizophrenia in
terms of emotional processing and cognitive analysis. The results are
surprising. When we show a sad photo to men with schizophrenia or when we ask
them to perform a spatial skills task, they display cerebral activation
similar to that of healthy women performing the same tests. Conversely, women
with schizophrenia show cerebral activation similar to that of healthy men."
    "These results will help us to better understand this complex disease and
revise therapeutic and pharmacological treatment methods. It's still difficult
to explain what underlies the sexual reversal mechanisms. Could abnormal
production of intrauterine sex hormones be the cause? Could this phenomenon
arise from social pressures or differences related to sex and gender in our
society? Many questions remain unanswered for now. That's what motivates me to
continue my research," concludes Adrianna Mendrek.

    Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital

    Supported by the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec, the
Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital also enjoys a
beneficial partnership with Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital and the
Philippe-Pinel Institute of Montréal. On the cutting edge of knowledge, it is
one of the most important mental health research sites in francophone Canada.

    Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital

    A leader in its field, Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital is a member of the
Université de Montréal's extended network of excellence in health. It offers
specialized and ultraspecialized mental health services and develops learning
through research, teaching and evaluation.

    Friday, March 27, 2009
    Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital -7401 Hochelaga, Bédard Pavilion, 3rd floor

    8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
    First Scientific Day of the Chair on Sex, Gender and Mental Health

    6:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
    Santé mentale: évolution des rapports hommes-femmes
    Public lecture presented by Rose-Marie Charest, president of the Ordre
    des psychologues du Québec
    Free lecture in French open to all-no reservations required


For further information:

For further information: Catherine Dion, Communications Department,
Louis-H. Lafontaine Hôpital - Fernand-Seguin Research Centre, (514) 251-4000,
ext. 2986, Cell: (514) 235-4036,

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Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal

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