Schizophrenic Patients May Have Shortcomings In Visual And Tactile Processing

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Dovetailing on previous studies that claim schizophrenia is a sensory disorder, patients with the condition may struggle to process stimuli from their surroundings, according to a new study published in Translational Psychiatry.

One of the trademarks of schizophrenia is auditory hallucinations, and previous research has drawn a link between the disease and auditory processing. These new findings claim that deciphering visual information - as well as basic touch inputs - is impeded in patients with the condition.

"When we think about schizophrenia, the first things that come to mind are the paranoia, the delusions, the disorganized thinking," said John Foxe, Ph.D., senior author of the study. "But there is increasing evidence that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way these patients hear, the way they feel things through their sense of touch, and in the way in which they see the environment."

Early diagnosis

During the study, 15 patients with schizophrenia were presented with touch and visual stimuli while brain responses were recorded via electrodes attached to the scalp. The team discovered that the patient’s ability to adapt to repeated touch and visual stimulation was much weaker than those without the disorder.

Researchers hope these new findings will unearth new ways to diagnose the condition at an early stage before symptoms become severe. This includes simple sensory adaptation tests that can be used to identify the condition before the disease entrenches itself.

"Schizophrenia is a disease that typically strikes during late adolescence or early adulthood, but what we also know is that long before a person has their first major psychotic episode, there are subtle changes occurring that precede the full manifestation of the disease,” said Foxe. “Our hope is that these new measures can allow us to pick up on these people before they ever become seriously ill."

Source: Medical Xpress