NARSAD Grantees Learning to Predict Likelihood of Mental Illness in Teenagers

Mary Phillips, M.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Mary Phillips, M.D.

A research team from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine led by 2005 NARSAD Independent Investigator, Mary Phillips, M.D. used a novel technique to predict future mental illness in teens at risk for mental illness from those with low risk. By combining data from fMRI testing and computer-based pattern recognition software, Dr. Phillips and her team studied (and continue to study) 32 teenagers, half of which have a biological parent with bipolar disorder (‘at risk’), and half with no history of brain and behavior disorders personally or within their immediate family (‘low risk’). The preliminary results of this study show promise for predicting individual risk of developing future mental illness, especially for at-risk populations. Continued research may also shed light on the relationship between depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder as previous research has shown bipolar disorder to often be preceded by depression or anxiety disorders.

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