Decoding Funny Faces To Detect Mental Illness

12.02.2009
By: ScienceDaily

Like Russell Crowe’s character in A Beautiful Mind, life is often difficult for the 2.4 million Americans with schizophrenia.  A late or incorrect diagnosis and the lack of effective treatment options can destroy a sufferer's quality of life.

Schizophrenia usually emerges between the ages of 18 and 30, but diagnosis before the disease manifests could be the key to developing more successful treatments, says Prof. Talma Hendler of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Psychology.

Until now, detecting mental illness before symptoms appear has been nearly impossible.  Building on her groundbreaking work on facial recognition and brain imaging, Prof. Hendler is hoping to make early diagnosis a reality by identifying the physical markers of mental illness — particularly schizophrenia — inside the brain.

“With better diagnosis, plus earlier and more disease-specific treatment, we can make a real difference in the lives of these patients,” Prof. Hendler says.