Research Summary

Yoga and Schizophrenia – a Comprehensive Assessment of Neuroplasticity (Y - SCAN)

The research proposal aims to test the effects and mechanisms of a validated yoga module as an add-on treatment in schizophrenia. The efficacy is proposed to be tested through a randomized controlled study assessing clinical symptoms, emotion processing, quality of life, and real-world functioning. The mechanisms of action of yoga in schizophrenia are proposed to be investigated using an integrated panel of assessments pertinent to neuroplasticity parameters – Serum Cortisol, Serum Brain derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), serum oxytocin, serum IGF-1, gene expression studies (Oxytocin and BDNF) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

The hypotheses are that Yoga-based intervention will improve psychopathology, emotion processing, quality of life, and socio-occupational functioning in patients with schizophrenia, and there will be demonstrable decrease in serum cortisol, increase in serum BDNF, IGF-1, and plasma oxytocin levels in patients with schizophrenia. There would also be demonstrable changes in expression of particular genes related to Oxytocin and BDNF, along with changes in cerebral activation in areas of the brain associated with symptoms of schizophrenia (limbic area and prefrontal cortex).

The results of this study may have significant implications for the scientific use of yoga-based interventions in schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

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