New Delhi: Simple brain scans can helppredict the onset of schizophrenia in young people with afamily history of the disease, scientists have claimed.A team from the University of Edinburgh found that thebrains of people who go on to develop schizophrenia sufferfrom an accelerated shrinking before they become unwell.
For their study, the team looked at the brain scans of146 people, aged between 16 and 25, with a family history ofschizophrenia, but who had not yet experienced any symptoms,and compared them to scans of 36 people with no such risk. The scans were taken every 18 months over a 10-yearperiod. The university said it is the first time that suchchanges in the brain size have been found in people at highrisk of schizophrenia before they develop any symptoms. Unlike previous studies, these changes cannot be due tomedication because all of the people in the study were notusing medication when they took part, it said. In healthy people, the brain begins to shrink from earlyadulthood onwards. It is known that accelerated shrinking ofthe brain occurs in people with manic depression andschizophrenia, but before now it was not known whether thesechanges happened before people became unwell. But this study showed that the loss of brain tissue isconcentrated in areas of the brain that control personality,decision-making and social behaviour. Researchers said scans could be used to pinpointshrinkage of the brain in people at high risk of schizophreniaand could help doctors diagnose the condition and starttreatment at an earlier stage, perhaps before illness firstappears. The study was published in the journal BiologicalPsychiatry. PTI
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