Researchers discover early warning sign of schizophrenia in the brain

Psychosis is a mental disorder characterized by a disconnection from reality.

One type of psychosis is schizophrenia, which is marked by hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorder, and generally, first appears in patients’ late teens and twenties.

Early interventions have been linked to better outcomes in the condition.

In a recent study from Yale University, researchers have found the early warning signs of the mental condition in the brain.

They found that the brains of people at risk of psychosis show a pattern that can help predict whether they will go on to develop full-fledged schizophrenia.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications. The senior author is Tyrone Cannon, a professor of psychology and psychiatry.

The researchers examined fMRI images of people who exhibit features of high risk for psychosis.

They found increased functional connectivity in the cerebello-thalamo-cortical circuitry, an extensive network involved in the coordination of a host of brain functions.

People who later developed psychosis had higher degrees of functional connectivity of this network.

In addition, this hyperconnectivity pattern appeared among people who already have a diagnosis of schizophrenia but not in those with other psychiatric disorders.

The team explains that the hyperconnectivity may reflect greater errors in integrative brain functioning, such as the mistiming in the convergence of information from different brain regions.

Or the pattern may reflect compensation for such errors, which are believed to underlie the disorganized thinking that is a hallmark psychosis.

The researchers believe the findings could help doctors begin early intervention therapies for those most likely to develop disabling disorder.

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