MRI brain scans could help predict schizophrenia, researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland say.
They found that MRI can detect key changes in the brain's grey matter before a person develops symptoms of schizophrenia. The researchers said that tracking these changes over time, combined with traditional assessments, could help doctors predict the mental health disorder, BBC News reported.
In this study, the researchers analysed a series of MRI brain scans (taken, on average, 18 months apart) of 65 young people at high risk of developing schizophrenia because two or more members of their family had been diagnosed with the illness.
Within about 2.3 years of the first scan, eight of the 65 participants had developed schizophrenia. The MRIs of those eight people showed they had experienced changes in their brain gray matter before they developed symptoms of schizophrenia, BBC News reported.
The changes involved a reduction of gray matter in an area of the brain that's linked to the processing of anxiety. The findings appear in the journal BMC Medicine.
"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 Dr Dominic Job. -
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