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A new test developed to detect schizophrenia analyzes eye movement as a way of determining whether a person is living with the mental illness. The new model is 98.3 percent accurate.
“It has been known for over a hundred years that individuals with psychotic illnesses have a variety of eye movement abnormalities, but until our study, using a novel battery of tests no one thought the abnormalities were sensitive enough to be used as potential clinical diagnostic biomarkers,” wrote lead authors Dr. Philip Benson and Dr. David St. Clair in Biological Psychiatry.
The series of tests includes gaze fixation tasks, free-viewing and smooth pursuit eye movements. During the free viewing test, a picture was shown to study volunteers and those with schizophrenia displayed consistent abnormal viewing patterns.
“It is encouraging to see the high sensitivity of this model for the diagnosis of schizophrenia. It will be interesting to see the extent to which this approach enables clinical investigators to distinguish people with schizophrenia from individuals with other psychiatric disorders,” commented Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry.
“The next thing we want to know is when the abnormalities are first detectable and can they be used as disease markers for early intervention studies in major mental illness? We are also keen to explore how best our findings can be developed for use in routine clinical practice,” explained Dr. Benson.
Sources: Biological Psychiatry, Medical News Today
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