Schizophrenia is a very severe neuropsychiatric disease whose first symptoms appear in the period of adolescence or early adulthood.
Its symptoms belong to 3 groups:
The cause of this disease has not been clarified. We study neurobiology of cognitive symptoms and mechanisms how antipsychotics affect these symptoms. Our results contribute to formation of a scientific view on schizophrenia that emphasizes the role of cognitive symptoms (attention disorders, decreased capability of making decisions and plans) in the development of this disease. The previous concept of schizophrenia regarded the disorder of cognitive functions only as a secondary symptom and/or as a side-effect of antipsychotic therapy.
How do we test cognitive functions of our animal models? In Morris’ water maze, we observe the ability of a rat to orientate itself in space and we measure how fast it learns to find an island hidden close under the water surface (on the left). Similarly in a rotating arena, a rat learns to avoid an allotted area where it is exposed to a weak electrical shock (on the right). Illustrations: Marie Entlerová