The final talk scheduled for this year's School of Psychology Seminar Series will be presented this Friday at 3pm, room 302 of the McElwain Building. Schizophrenia researcher Professor John McGrath (known for the vitamin D hypothesis Dr. Darryl Eyles talked about last year) will present his views on the potential role evolutionary considerations may (or may not) play in schizophrenia research. John is an excellent presenter. So this promises to be a fine end of what, I hope you agree, was a very interesting series of talks. Thank you all for supporting the school seminars over the last three years.
Professor John McGrath
Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research
Evolutionary theories of schizophrenia: "big ideas" or the soft-underbelly of schizophrenia research?
Schizophrenia has attracted more than its fair share of theories based on evolutionary perspectives. It has been argued elsewhere that such theories may reflect a belief that schizophrenia is an 'exceptional' disorder, thus features that are thought to be 'special' to H. sapiens often underpin these theories. Usually, symptoms or neurobiological correlates of schizophrenia are interpreted as trade-offs for adaptations related to key innovations of our species (e.g. language, theory of mind, social intelligence etc). These theories tend to be ingenious, ambitious (i.e. 'big ideas'), thought-provoking and tenaciously held by their proponents. Few of these theories provide
hypotheses suitable for testing, and even fewer are actually modified in response to the data. While these theories are stimulating, it is argued that evolutionary perspectives of development (evo-devo) may provide a better investment for schizophrenia research. A narrower focus on understanding how evolution builds brains may provide us with insights into how the development of the brain can go astray. Indeed, schizophrenia