Brain imaging by scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London has revealed structural changes in the brain of schizophrenics, which could provide a means of identifying those people most at risk. This could enable doctors to diagnose schizophrenia before the onset of psychotic symptoms, and intervene before the condition takes hold.

In a study published in November American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr Tonmoy Sharma and his team studied 37 patients who were experiencing their first episode of psychosis, 13 of whom were medication-naive. They compared these patients with 25 healthy volunteers. Using magnetic resonance imaging, Dr Sharma found that the patient group had significant deficits in cortical grey matter, temporal lobe grey matter and whole brain volume, as well as significant enlargement of the lateral and third ventricles.

Scanning the brain in the earliest stage of schizophrenia, and before the use of antipsychotic drugs, enabled Dr Sharma and...

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