White matter connects different regions of the brain together and it is known to be disrupted in people who have schizophrenia. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles used a new technique called diffusion tensor imaging to study 61 people between the ages of 21 and 26. The technique uses the movement of water molecules within white matter to chart connections in the brain. 36 of the participants were deemed to be at high risk of developing schizophrenia, based on genetic factors or because they showed early symptoms of it, while the other 25 participants formed a control group. The control group showed a normal increase in the 'integrity' of the white matter in their temporal lobes but the high-risk group did not show this normal developmental pattern. By looking at the integrity of people's white matter at the start of the study the researchers were able to predict how well they would be functioning at work, school and home over the course of the two-year study.
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