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Early Treatment of Hearing, Vision Helps in Schizophrenia

Identifying sensory problems before onset of complex disease symptoms benefits patients, study finds

FRIDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Identifying sight and hearing problems in teens who are in the early stages of schizophrenia may help doctors fully restore those senses and lessen the impact of the devastating thought disorder, U.S. researchers say.

A new study found that problems in basic sensory processing abilities cause many of the more complicated cognitive deficits in people with schizophrenia.

"In people with schizophrenia, we know that visual and auditory sensory systems that functioned well in early childhood begin to break down during adolescence, years earlier than the onset of the more complex cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia," Dr. Daniel C. Javitt, of the New York University School of Medicine, said in a news release.

"We already know a lot about what people with this disorder can and cannot do," Javitt said. "Our research focuses on understanding how the brain works and identifying specific biomarkers for cognitive impairment that will distinguish schizophrenia from Alzheimer's and other diseases."

He and his team determined that impaired function of the visual and auditory systems makes it more difficult for people with schizophrenia to read, pay attention and understand social cues. The researchers also identified biomarkers in the brain that could help determine which patients would benefit from early intervention.

The study was scheduled to be presented Dec. 9 at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Hollywood, Fla.

More information

Mental Health America has more about schizophrenia.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, news release, Dec. 9, 2009

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