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Distorted Perception in Late Teens Tied to Later Psychosis

Nonpsychotic perceptual disturbance at age 18 years linked to increases in midlife hallucinations, delusions, and total psychotic symptoms

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MONDAY, Aug. 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Nonpsychotic forms of perceptual disturbance at age 18 years are associated with increases in hallucinations, delusions, and total psychotic symptoms in midlife, according to research published online in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Mark F. Lenzenweger, Ph.D., from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, examined the associations between nonpsychotic perceptual aberrations measured at age 18 years in individuals with no prior history of psychosis and clinical psychotic symptom outcomes 17 years later in their mid-30s. In the follow-up study, clinical assessments for hallucinations and delusions were completed for 191 adults (95 percent of original sample).

Lenzenweger found that increases in hallucinations, delusions, and total psychotic symptoms in midlife and in psychotic illness were predicted by increased perceptual aberrations at age 18 years. General nonspecific psychopathology factors such as anxiety or depression present at age 18 years did not account for the associations between baseline perceptual aberrations and later psychotic symptoms.

"These new findings point to a specific focus for future research to drill more deeply into the biological factors driving psychotic illness and real-world experiences in the form of perceptual disturbances," Lenzenweger said in a statement. "Understanding the nature of such perceptual aberrations might provide more clues as to what is going on in the development of schizophrenia and other similar conditions."

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