Reasearcher Bio I have been doing research on schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders for over twenty years, with a primary focus on epidemiology. Most of my work concerns the migrant effect as a potential key to "environmental" antecedents to schizophrenia. I also conduct psychiatric research in low-income countries (Africa, Asia).
Top Papers See medline.
If resources were not limited, what research projects would you pursue? Epidemiology of schizophrenia in low-income countries. Animal models for schizophrenia. Migration studies within the European community. Comparative studies of different types of urban environments. Community-based studies of psychotic experiences.
What is your leading hypothesis? Dopamine sensitisation plays a key role in the development of schizophrenia. The increased incidence of schizophrenia in migrants is due to dopamine sensitisation caused by long-term exposure to social defeat. Exposure to social defeat or social exclusion (rather than exposure to stress in general) may be particularly pathogenic because the human brain's reward systems have evolved in a social context. See the Social Defeat hypothesis (see Selten & Cantor-Graae, Br J Psychiatry 187, 101-102, 2005)
What piece of missing evidence would help prove it? Studies of dopamine response in migrants. Prospective studies of discrimination in migrants. Population studies showing ethnic/cultural variation in dopamine response.
What is your fallback position? The impact of adverse social factors is largely mediated by individual genetic variation in dopamine responsivity. In other words, genetically vulnerable individuals seek out environments that are "schizopathogenic" for them. This would however not exclude an independent contribution of the social environment to the development of schizophrenia.