Schizophrenia News: November 2012

  • New Eye Movement Tests Predict Schizophrenia.


    In a study, researchers created a model that with 98.3 percent accuracy predicted who has schizophrenia from healthy control participants.


    Eye movement tests that include gaze-fixation tasks, free-viewing, and smooth pursuit were employed.  Individuals with schizophrenia displayed abnormal viewing patterns.


    The study was published in Biological Psychiatry.


    Lead authors of the study, Dr. Philip Benson and Dr. David St. Clair wonder if the results can be extrapolated to show when the abnormalities are first detectable.  If so, they might be able to be used as disease markers for early intervention studies.

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    Do the eyes have it?  Can a person's glare or stare be used to diagnose him in the prodrome?


    (New eye movement tests can diagnose schizophrenia, retrieved on November 11, 2012 from


    Also in Biological Psychiatry:


    A new study sheds light on the idea that immune and inflammatory mechanisms influence the biology of schizophrenia.


    Dr. Mar Fatjo-Vilas and colleagues researched the impact of the interleukin1β gene (IL1β) on brain function alterations linked with schizophrenia.


    The study enhances the recent field of 'functional imaging genetics' that could be powerful in the study of schizophrenia since genetic factors and cognitive impairment are hallmarks of the disease.


    Interleukins play a role in the immune system and are also involved in a variety of development and functioning processes of the central nervous system.  Interleukin-1β levels in the blood are altered in individuals with depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders.


    (Inflammation and Cognition in Schizophrenia, retrieved on November 11, 2012 from . . .)


    In lifestyle news:


    Exercise improves mental health and cardiovascular fitness in individuals with schizophrenia.


    A study of 63 patients with schizophrenia revealed that 1 or 2 hours of exercise therapy per week significantly reduced positive and negative symptoms.


    31 patients were randomly assigned to undergo 6 months of exercise therapy, and 32 to receive occupational therapy, with creative and recreational activities such as painting, reading and computer activities.


    The exercise group won hands down. 


    A 30.2 percent reduction in Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) was seen compared with a 8.56 percent reduction with occupational therapy.


    Not only that, exercise therapy was linked to a 20.7 percent reduction in Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) scores in those with a compliance rate of at least 50 percent.


    The researchers suggest future studies could enroll larger numbers of patient with longer follow-up periods to validate their findings.


    (Exercise benefits physical, mental health in schizophrenia retrieved on November 11, 2012 from . . .)


    More interesting news about medication compliance:


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    Individuals with schizophrenia who take their drugs on schedule are significantly more likely to live longer.  Avoiding extremely high doses and regularly seeing a mental health professional also increased the likelihood of a long life.


    Lead researcher Dr. Bernadette A. Cullen, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and her colleagues analyzed data collected between 1994 through 2004 on 2,132 adult Maryland Medicaid beneficiaries with schizophrenia.


    The individuals with 90 percent or better compliance with taking their medication had a risk of death 25 percent lower compared to those who were less than 10 percent compliant.  Each additional visit per year to a mental health professional was linked to a 5 percent reduction in risk of death overall.


    In contrast, the study patients who took high doses of first-generation antipsychotic medication daily were 88 percent more likely to die (1500 mg or greater chlorpromazine equivalents.)  53 percent of those who died while taking the larger doses died of cardiovascular disease.


    Bernadette A. Cullen  suggests a person rarely needs to be on extremely high doses.  She believes if your illness is under control you are more likely to be socially engaged and have a healthier lifestyle.


    (Guideline-Concordant TX Cuts Mortality in Schizophrenia, retrieved on November 11, 2012 from . . .)


    Along with the schizophrenia news:


    New research indicates that healthy behavior in midlife can significantly improve the well-being of individuals as they age.


    The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).


    Adopting the behaviors of not smoking, using alcohol in moderation, exercising and eating fruits and vegetables revealed it is significantly more likely people will stay healthy in their older years.


    According to the study, those who engaged in all four healthy behaviors had greater odds of aging successfully compared with the participants who engaged in no healthy behaviors.


    The successful agers were also more likely to have higher education than the normally aging group (32 percent versus 24 percent) and the deceased group (18 percent).


    The combined effect of adopting all four healthy behaviors could allow individuals to reach old age without disease, the study authors concluded.


    (Midlife behaviors crucial to healthy aging, retrieved on October 24, 2012 from . . .)

Published On: November 12, 2012