MRI may help predict schizophrenia

December 8, 2006

Brain scans may help predict schizophrenia, Scottish researchers say, by detecting changes in the brain's gray matter.

When combined with traditional assessments, tracking gray matter changes over time could help physicians better predict the disorder, the BBC said.

In their study, University of Edinburgh researchers analyzed MRI brain scans of 65 young people at high risk of developing schizophrenia because family histories indicated two or more members were diagnosed with the illness.

In just over two years after the first scan, eight participants developed schizophrenia. Researchers said MRIs indicated a reduction of gray matter in an area of the brain linked to processing anxiety prior to the patients' exhibited symptoms.

"Although there are no preventative treatments for the illness, an accurate predictive test could help researchers to assess possibilities for prevention in the future," said lead researcher Dominic Job.

The findings were published in the BMC Medicine journal.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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