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Schizophrenia in the limelight: Film-industry technology provides insights
Date:1/20/2014

The first 30 seconds of a social encounter is crucial for people with symptoms of schizophrenia for establishing contact with people, according to new research carried out at Queen Mary University of London.

Using motion capture technology more commonly found in the film industry, the researchers studied social interactions of patients in a group and analysed the patterns of verbal and non-verbal communication.

Publishing in the journal PLOS ONE today (Monday 20 January), researchers found people with schizophrenia are sidelined in conversation even when other participants are unaware of their illness.

To examine this, the scientists set up a conversation between three people and investigated how peoples' involvement varied.

Each participant wore clothing with 27 reflective markers, which were tracked in 3D by an array of infrared cameras in the Augmented Human Interaction Laboratory, part of Queen Mary's School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.

"This is the first time motion capture techniques have been applied to clinical populations to analyse how people relate to each other, and the complex social barriers faced by some people with mental health problems," said co-author Professor Pat Healey, head of Cognitive Science Research Group, which is part of the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.

"Nonverbal communication, such as gestures, nodding and posture, are a key part of face-to-face communication. The motion capture equipment allows us to study this non-verbal choreography in live interactions in an unprecedented level of detail."

In the study, the team observed that people with symptoms of schizophrenia were more withdrawn and less likely to be spoken to in the opening moments of the conversations, and found it harder to engage the other participants.

The difficulties in these opening moments are connected with other participants feeling le
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Contact: Neha Okhandiar
n.okhandiar@qmul.ac.uk
020-788-27927
Queen Mary, University of London
Source:Eurekalert

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