On the trail of schizophrenia

Scientists are tracing its roots in the genome and the brain.

Schizophrenia has presented a puzzle to psychiatry for more than a century, but it's possible that the pieces are beginning to fall into place. The most dramatic symptom of this devastating mental illness is psychosis — hallucinations, delusions, and grossly illogical thoughts, speech, and behavior. More pervasive and at least as important are the negative symptoms — emotional constriction, loss of spontaneity and initiative, seeming lack of interest in life or capacity for pleasure. And researchers are increasingly interested in a variety of cognitive deficiencies, sometimes subtle, that make perceiving the world accurately, thinking, planning, and acting rationally a challenge even for people with schizophrenia who are not in a psychotic state.

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