Unique cognitive bio-markers to screen for common emotional mental illnesses

· TGI - Biomarkers, TGI - Health

Scientists from the University of Cambridge have discovered a cognitive biomarker — a biological indicator of a disease — for young adolescents who are at high risk of developing depression and anxiety.

The test for the unique cognitive biomarker could be used as an inexpensive tool to screen adolescents for common emotional mental illnesses. As the cognitive biomarker may appear prior to the symptoms of depression and anxiety, early intervention could then be initiated.

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The evidence is that both our genes and our early childhood experiences contribute to such personal thinking styles. Before there are any clinical symptoms of depression or anxiety, this test reveals a deficient ability to efficiently and effectively perceive emotion processes in some teenagers — a biomarker for low resilience which may lead to mental illnesses.” says professor  Ian Goodyer, Principal Investigator in this study.

Epigenetic mechanisms

Epigenetic mechanisms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The study suggests that adolescents with a variation of one gene (the short form of the serotonin transporter) as well as exposure to intermittent family arguments for longer than six months and violence between parents before the age of six were shown to have marked difficulty in evaluating the emotion within the words, indicating an inability to process emotional information.

The scientists hope that their research could lead to developing inexpensive cognitive tests to screen for these illnesses, particularly in people identified as being at high social and genetic risk.

These findings were published on, 28 November, in the journal PLOS ONE



Biospace: University of Cambridge Scientists Identify Depression and Anxiety Biomarker in Youths

Sciencedaily: Scientists Identify Depression and Anxiety Biomarker in Youths

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