Despite decades of study, schizophrenia has remained stubbornly difficult to diagnose in its earliest stage — between the appearance of symptoms and the development of the disorder. Now, a new analysis led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) identified illogical thoughts as most predictive of schizophrenia risk.

Surprisingly, perceptual disturbances — the forerunners of hallucinations — are not predictive, even though full-blown hallucinations are common features of schizophrenia. The results were published online today in the journal Schizophrenia Research.

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness that affects more than 3 million people in the United States. It typically emerges during late adolescence and early adulthood, and remains a chronic and disabling disorder for most patients. Psychosis, which more than 6 million Americans experience, refers to a group of symptoms, including paranoia, delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations, and disorganization of thought and behavior.

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