Research Points to Early Warning Signs for Schizophrenia

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Changes in brain function may foreshadow schizophrenia as early as puberty, nearly a decade before most patients begin showing obvious symptoms, new research from the University of North Carolina shows.

Researchers in Chapel Hill looked at brain scans of 42 children, some as young as 9, who had close relatives with schizophrenia. They saw that many of the children already had areas of the brain that were “hyper-activated” in response to emotional stimulation and tasks that required decision-making, said Aysenil Belger, associate professor of psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

“These children are trying extra hard to do something that other children are able to do without so much effort,” Belger said.

Belger said her team’s findings could help establish an earlier diagnosis of the brain disease and ultimately point to techniques for offsetting or minimizing disease progression.

By Renee Elder, News Observer

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