Diagosing Disorders

The anatomical abnormalities mirrored the severity of

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Unformatted text preview: ms and the impairments caused by the disease. Such studies point the way toward a diagnostic test. It is possible that some index of measurements of cortical thickness and the size of structures known to be affected in schizophrenia (such as the hippocampus) could be used to discern whether a young person is suffering from the disorder and to www.sciam.com agnosis of schizophrenia and, perhaps more important, track the success of therapy. By combining neuroimaging with genetic studies, physicians may eventually be able to move psychiatric diagnoses out of the realm of symptom checklists and into the domain of objective medical tests. Genetic testing of patients could reveal who is at high risk for developing a disorder such as schizophrenia or depression. Doctors could then use neuroimaging on the high-risk patients to determine whether the disorder has actually set in. I do not want to sound too optimistic-- the task is daunting. But the current pace of technological development augurs well for progress. MORE TO E XPLORE Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fourth edition. American Psychiatric Association, 1994. Mapping Adolescent Brain Change Reveals Dynamic Wave of Accelerated Gray Matter Loss in Very Early-Onset Schizophrenia. Paul M. Thompson, Christine Vidal, Jay N. Giedd, Peter Gochman, Jonathan Blumenthal, Robert Nicolson, Arthur W. Toga and Judith L. Rapoport in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 98, No. 20, pages 1165011655; September 25, 2001. Available online at www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/98/20/11650 The Discovery of Susceptibility Genes for Mental Disorders. C. Robert Cloninger in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 99, No. 21, pages 1336513367; October 15, 2002. Available online at www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/99/21/13365 Neuroscience, Genetics, and the Future of Psychiatric Diagnosis. Steven E. Hyman in Psychopathology, Vol. 35, No. 23, pages 139144; MarchJune 2002. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 103 COPYRIGHT 2003 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, INC....
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