In a study analyzing whole-brain images from nearly 16,000 people, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine identified a common pattern across a spectrum of psychiatric disorders that are widely perceived to be quite distinct.

The meta-analysis of 193 peer-reviewed papers, published Feb. 4 in JAMA Psychiatry, reports a loss of gray matter in three brain structures that, although physically separate, participate in a network associated with high-level functions, including planning and decision-making.

The findings call into question a longstanding tendency to distinguish psychiatric disorders chiefly by their symptoms rather than their underlying brain pathology.

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