Schizophrenia risk may be revealed by face reading and finger length according to research. The findings uncovered that deficits in emotional recognition may be a precursor to schizophrenia symptoms and may help identify those at highest risk to develop the mental disorder.
There are criteria set out to help identify those with schizophrenia but nearly 20 to 30 percent of patients who meet the criteria transition into psychosis within three years. The researchers argued that by identifying those at risk earlier through algorithms can receive earlier intervention and prevent serious psychosis.
For the study researchers compared 49 high risk individuals of schizophrenia with 31 healthy same age and sex control individuals along with a cohort of 93 schizophrenia patients. The comparison examined normal development of the face and auditory emotion recognition in 43 young individuals aged seven to 26 years.
Deficits in the high risk group were compared to those with the established patients with schizophrenia and the healthy control individuals. Face emotion recognition was analyzed using a ER40 tool which uses colors and photographs to express basic facial emotions and auditory emotion recognition was also measured with ER40 but using audio recordings which conveyed emotion.
Within 2.5 years seven participants developed schizophrenia from the high risk group. Emotional recognition deficits were strongly correlated with a transition into schizophrenia. Face emotion processing was the strongest predictor with 96 percent accuracy.
The study revealed that emotion deficits could be effective predictors of future schizophrenia and screening for these deficits could prevent psychosis as well as offer early intervention treatment.
Schizophrenia risk in males linked to finger length
An alternative study examined the risk of schizophrenia as determined by finger length. The researchers found that the ratio of the lengths of the index finger and the ring finger in males is associated with a higher risk of schizophrenia. When the index finger is shorter than the ring finger it leads to a smaller 2D:4D ratio which suggests a higher exposure to testosterone whilst in the uterus.
The study examined 103 male patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and 100 control males without schizophrenia and uncovered the ratio between 2D:4D could be a predictor of schizophrenia. There were significant differences between the schizophrenia and control group in regards to finger length ratio on both hands.
Co-author, Dr. Taner Oznur, said, “Asymmetry index showed moderate discriminatory power and, therefore asymmetry index has a potential utility as a diagnostic test in determining the presence of schizophrenia.”
Schizophrenia early diagnosis through expert system
Recent research suggests that early diagnosis of schizophrenia is possible through expert system. Researchers found that expert systems typically used for problem solving may also be beneficial in medical diagnosis, in particular psychiatry.
Common diagnosis methods of schizophrenia involves a complete psychiatric examination but spotting symptoms early on may offer earlier treatment intervention preventing complications and can greatly benefit the patient and the caregivers.
The research team explained, “Treatment of schizophrenia depends largely on medications and on psychosocial interventions. No single approach is widely considered effective for all patients.” Being able to diagnose schizophrenia early on will give doctors and health preventions more time to find the appropriate method of treatment based on the individuals needs instead of waiting until the patient has progressed which can lead to further complications.
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