The aim of this study is to investigate the role of the neurotransmitter histamine in sensory and cognitive deficits (e.g. hearing voices, disturbed thinking and planning, memory problems) as they are observed in patients suffering from schizophrenia. The ideal location to conduct the study and to obtain a unique learning experience is at the Institute of Psychiatry, London United Kingdom, where staff comprises a mix of leading experts in the field of schizophrenia and experimental drug treatment as well as specialists in Magnetic Resonance Brain Imaging. The pharmacological treatment of psychotic symptoms including sensory and cognitive deficits as seen in schizophrenia remains partially unsuccessful due to side effects and treatment resistance. Therefore, new treatments are continuously developed by pharmaceutical companies. The neurotransmitter histamine is a promising target for new drugs. Histamine turnover in the brain has been suggested to be increased in schizophrenia which may underlie the positive symptoms. A decrease in histaminergic activity in the frontal cortex has been suggested to underlie the cognitive deficits. No attempts have been made until now to investigate the specific role of histamine in sensory and cognitive deficits typically seen in schizophrenics. To investigate this, I will assess the effects of increased histaminergic activity, by blocking the H3 receptor in healthy volunteers, on sensory gating and tasks of executive functioning (planning) and memory. Altered performance on such tasks would support the importance of histamine in schizophrenia and provides a model for new drug development in order to treat the sensory and cognitive deficits.
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