A01 A02 Sociocultural AO2 Cognitive Introducing Biology
The cognitive explanation acknowledges the role of biological factors in schizophrenia, suggesting that the basis of the condition is abnormal brain activity producing visual and auditory hallucinations. Further features of the disorder emerge as people try to make sense of the hallucinations.
When schizophrenics first experience voices and other worrying sensory experiences, they turn to others to confirm the validity of what they are experiencing. Other people fail to confirm the reality of these experiences, so the schizophrenic comes to believe that others must be hiding the truth. They begin to reject feedback from those around them and develop delusional beliefs that they are being manipulated and persecuted by others.
An alternative explanation is that stressful life events cause the onset of schizophrenia. Events such as death of a close relative act as a trigger. The individual may have a biological predisposition for schizophrenia but only some people with such a predisposition will develop this disorder – those who experience stressors.
Brown and Birley found that, prior to a schizophrenic episode, patients reported twice as many stressful life events compared to a healthy control group, who reported a low and unchanging level of stressful life events over the same period. This illustrates the link between stressors and the onset of schizophrenia.
There is biological evidence to support the cognitive explanation. Meyer-Linderberg et al found a link between excess levels of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex and dysfunctions of working memory. Working memory dysfunction is associated with the cognitive disorganisation typically found in schizophrenics. This supports the idea that biological factors underlie some of the early symptoms of schizophrenia.
The cognitive approach has real-world applications as the basis