Saturday, October 19, 2013

Schizophrenia Finding Could Lead to Therapy

I find this very suggestive.  Perhaps we can apply therapeutic eye hand drills to the problem.  This can strengthen the brain’s ability to override false messages and possibly encourage way more.  At least it becomes physical and easily measurable..

I would especially use video games because they are designed for working alone.

An increase in proficiency should herald a general improvement.  If not, it can at least show the value of drills generally and support other therapies toward that end.

Schizophrenia finding could lead to therapy 
UBC research looks at how the illness affects visual tasks
 By Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun September 30, 2013

New research at the University of British Columbia on the role of visual processing in schizophrenia could open the door to earlier diagnosis of the illness and potential therapies.

"(Schizophrenics) may have difficulty with the simplest tasks like crossing the street safely, reading a map or using the correct change on the bus," said Miriam Spering, lead author of a recent article in the Journal of Neuroscience.

"It occurred to me that many of those problems may be visual."

Schizophrenia is a common mental illness characterized by disordered thoughts and speech, delusions and often, auditory and visual hallucinations. It affects about one person in 100, usually manifesting between the ages of 15 and 35.

Patients struggle with simple visual tasks such as tracking a moving object in a video game and predicting its movements compared with normal subjects tested by Spering. "What we found was a bit of a surprise," she said.

Impaired eye movement long known to be associated with the illness is not sufficient to explain the difference in performance.

Much of what we see is "constructed" by the brain, which integrates visual information from the eyes with a predictive image generated by the brain to confirm visual information, fill in gaps and process the motion of objects, she explained.

When schizophrenics fail to integrate the two images and the information in the brain conflicts with eye movements, their world is neither stable nor predictable.

Spering is optimistic that her finding will lead to a therapy to alleviate visual symptoms of schizophrenia.

"If we can understand what is going on in their brains we can start developing therapeutic tools based on vision and eye movement," she said.

Spering is now expanding on her original research, studying the abilities of athletes with better-than-normal visual motion processing abilities.

At the request of UBC's baseball coach Terry McKaig, Spering is observing his players' eye movements while they hit balls in a batting cage in hopes of creating a program to improve hand-eye coordination for daily use by his athletes. What she learns could benefit schizophrenics, too.

"It is my vision to develop an easy-to-use tool that can be used by any patient to improve their eye movements," she said.

She will soon begin examining the families of schizophrenics with the goal of finding genetic clues that could help predict who is likely to become schizophrenic.

"We are going to extend the study now to the relatives of known psychotics to see if they have similar impairment, which would suggest a strong genetic component (to schizophrenia)," she said.

"Hopefully, in the future, we may be able to use this as a sensitive early marker for the disease

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