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Film technology gives insight into schizophrenia

Posted on Jan 21 2014 | IANS

London, Jan 21 : A technology used in films has revealed how to tackle social difficulties experienced by schizophrenia patients in social gatherings.

The first 30 seconds of a social encounter is crucial for people with symptoms of schizophrenia for establishing contact with people, shows research.

Using motion-capture technology used in the film industry, the researchers studied social interactions of patients in a group and analysed the patterns of verbal and non-verbal communication.

They found people with schizophrenia are sidelined in conversation even when other participants are unaware of their illness, said the study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

To examine this, the scientists at Queen Mary University of London set up a conversation between three people and investigated how peoples' involvement varied.

Each participant wore clothing with 27 reflective markers, which were tracked in 3D by an array of infrared cameras in the augmented human interaction lab at Queen Mary University.

The team observed that people with symptoms of schizophrenia were more withdrawn and less likely to be part of conversations and found it harder to engage other participants.

"This is the first time motion capture techniques have been applied to clinical populations to analyse how people relate to each other, and the complex social barriers faced by some people with mental health problems," said co-author professor Pat Healey, head of cognitive science research group at Queen Mary.

"Nonverbal communication, such as gestures, nodding and posture, are a key part of face-to-face communication. The motion capture equipment allowed us to study this non-verbal choreography in live interactions in an unprecedented level of detail," Healey added.

In the future it may be possible to use motion capture from video game technology such as the Kinect system to get similar data from more everyday surroundings, the research concluded.

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