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Reduced perceptual span has been suggested to be a cognitive marker of vulnerability to schizophrenia. However, the specificity of this impairment in visual information processing to schizophrenia is not well established. This preliminary study examined perceptual span in schizophrenic and manic patients divided into subgroups with and without active symptomatology. Symptomatic patients had reduced span in comparison with less symptomatic groups, but there were no differences between schizophrenic and manic patients.
While in the long term we can hope for leadership waking up to the ways in which relentless grant spamming perpetuates existing biases, systemic change is slow, and it can be fickle depending on the political winds of the moment. So, such a fix could be a long time coming, and may not be implemented equally by different institutions and funders. This is not to dismiss the importance of systemic change in the long term. It is very important, but for anyone affected now by this issue, waiting on systemic change is not an effective strategy.
Nonsensical phrasing can also be generated for more malicious reasons, such as the Bayesian poisoning used to counter Bayesian spam filters by using a string of words which have a high probability of being collocated in English, but with no concern for whether the sentence makes sense grammatically or logically.
What's the trendiest way to protest government cybersnooping? Spam. That's the idea behind SuPerVillainizer, an automated "conspiracy" app that churns out emails peppered with words and phrases designed to trigger Switzerland's electronic surveillance system. SuPerVillainizer writes like a schizo terrorist channeling a Nigerian email scammer: "The deep throat we have inside the Mossad says they are planning to use the Windows NT backdoor on some Nasa.gov nodes," reads one message. "Finally, hijack submarine." Created by a group of artists and students, the Web-based project (www.supervillainizer.ch) is mostly a Swiss thing, but spammers worldwide are joining in. Wanna play? Log on, create a villain, and tell it how often to ping other villains. "The content entered into the mail generator is a reflection of the global political situation," says Annina Ruest, one of the project's creators. "We're expanding the definition of 'villain.'"
The research started out by analyzing fecal samples from 63 patients currently suffering from symptomatic schizophrenia. These samples were compared against a control group of 69 healthy individuals. Overall, several significant differences were found in microbial diversity between the schizophrenic subjects and the healthy controls.
The schizophrenic subjects, alongside displaying generally less microbial diversity in their microbiome, revealed higher levels of several bacterial families including Veillonellaceae, Prevotellaceae, Bacteroidaceae, and Coriobacteriaceae. A number of other bacteria were seen in much lower levels in the schizophrenic subjects, including Lachnospiraceae, Ruminococcaceae, Norank, and Enterobacteriaceae.
In trying to understand how specific these results were to schizophrenia versus other neuropsychiatric conditions, the researchers compared their data to microbiome studies in subjects suffering from major depression. Interestingly, this microbiome fingerprint was unique to schizophrenic subjects and shared little in common with the gut bacteria profile of subjects suffering from depression.
The next stage of the study was where things got really strange. The researchers took fecal samples from human schizophrenic patients and transplanted then into healthy, germ-free mice. The same process was also done using healthy human fecal samples to create an effective control group. The researchers claim the mice colonized with the schizophrenic microbiome soon displayed behavioral changes that have been associated with mouse models of schizophrenia.
While the research undeniably implies a direct causal connection between the gut microbiome and schizophrenia, there are major unanswered questions raised by the data. It is widely known that schizophrenia is closely associated with a whole host of physical and social factors. From smoking to homelessness and heart disease, there are many confounding factors that could potentially account for the diverse differences in gut bacteria between the schizophrenic and healthy subjects.
The researchers also note that all but five of the schizophrenic subjects were taking antipsychotic medication. They report little difference in microbial makeup between the medicated and unmedicated schizophrenic subjects, but this is a strikingly small sample.
A total of 1120 tweets referring to schizophrenia/schizophrenic and 1080 referring to psychosis/psychotic were identified over two 7-day periods; 424 original tweets for schizophrenia and 416 original tweets for psychosis were included in the analysis. Psychosis was significantly more commonly included in tweets expressing negative attitudes (n=131, 31.5%) than schizophrenia (n=41, 9.7%) (χ² = 237.03, P < 0.0001). Of the personal opinions or dyadic interactions, 125 (53.4%) in the psychosis data set were stigmatising, compared with 33 (24.6%) of those in the schizophrenia set (χ² = 44.65, P < 0.0001).
The terms psychosis/psychotic are associated with a significantly higher number of tweets with negative content than schizophrenia/schizophrenic. Together with other evidence, this suggests that changing the name of schizophrenia to psychosis will not reduce negative attitudes toward the condition.
Schizoid personality disorder is considered to be part of the schizophrenic spectrum of disorders. This refers to a group of Class A personality disorders that have similar symptoms of behaviour - particularly the lack of emotional expression and the inability to form social connections. These include schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder.
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