A Neurodynamic Theory of Schizophrenia (and Related Disorders)

Author: Miller, Robert


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  • ISBN: 9780473136536
  • Author: Miller, Robert
  • Publ Date: 2008-04-01
  • Edition:
  • Pages: 656
  • Imprint: LULU.COM *
  • Status: ACT
  • ID - 6033


This work, the result of over twenty years of scholarship, presents an integrated theory of the complex disorder called "schizophrenia". It reviews evidence from many fields - biological, psychological, social - and develops arguments which attempt to explain psychological and symptomatic features of the disorder in terms of underlying processes at the neuronal level. The central premise is that the core abnormality lies in the axons connecting together different parts of the cerebral cortex. Normally these have a wide range of conduction velocities - "a repertoire of delay lines". It is suggested that in schizophrenia there is a relative absence of rapidly-conducting axons, these being replaced by more slowly-conducting ones. Arguments and much evidence are presented to show how this simple premise can account for many features of schizophrenia, in relation to symptoms, sensory perception, motor control, cognitive psychology, linguistics, and (in the biological domain), electrophysiology, as well as brain morphology and cytology. This theory is compatible with other perspectives on schizophrenia - the "stress-diathesis model, the neurodevelopmental hypothesis, and the dopamine theory of psychosis - but incorporates much additional evidence into the theory, and tries to formulate true cross-level explanations. A crucial aspect of this theory is that two, almost-completely separate bodies of theory are required, one accounting for active psychotic illness in terms of overactivity of the central neurotransmitter dopamine, the other accounting for enduring non-psychotic trait abnormalities in terms of the central premise about axons. The most important area in which the two theories overlap is related to the question: "Why are people with all the trait abnormalities associated with the disorder also prone to episodes of psychotic destabilization?" Answers to this question are based on the central premise about axonal conduction. Major contributing causes at the level of the psychosocial environment are accepted, along with genetic contributory causation. In the final chapter, reasons are given for suggesting that the psychosocial causes promote the occurrence of psychosis in predisposed individuals, without contributing to the basic constitution for schizophrenia.

Author Biography:

Robert Miller "cut his teeth" in research in the field of single unit neurophysiology, at Oxford, in the mid-1960s. His attempt to obtain a medical degree was prevented by a period dominated by serious psychotic illness. He obtained his doctorate, in neurochemistry, from Glasgow University in 1973. His story since then is, in large part, an attempt to integrate these related but very different fields of experience, scientific and personal. In 1977, he emigrated to New Zealand, since when, in the Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology at Otago University, he has developed a distinctive variety of library-based theoretical research on brain function. He has published many papers on normal brain dynamics, the role of dopamine in the brain, and the actions of antipsychotic drugs. At New Year 2007, he was awarded the honour "Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit". In his spare time, he is an amateur composer and writer, and enjoys spending time with his two daughters in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.


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