A new study, led by University of New South Wales, has claimed that brain cells might become "stuck" in their journey during brain development to the outer "thinking" layer of the brain, which could be a cause of schizophrenia.
The scientists have found that in people with schizophrenia, brain cells destined for the cortex - the outer part of the brain associated with thinking and other cognitive abilities - could get trapped in the layer below.
"We think brain cells might be trapped while in the process of migrating to the cortex while the brain develops. This process of neuronal migration to the cortex doesn't stop at birth. It's robust in infants and may continue in teenage years and beyond.
"We know that brain development is derailed somehow in people with schizophrenia, and this study helps us understand how," said lead scientist Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert.
The next step is to understand why these neurons are failing to complete their journey to the cortex, according to the scientists.
"Then maybe we can develop a therapy that encourages the neurons to keep moving to the finish line. Our hope is that this would reduce symptoms or even prevent schizophrenia from developing at all," she said. The findings have been published in the latest edition of the 'Biological Psychiatry' journal.