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Using mindfulness to reduce schizophrenia vulnerability


Project description

We are all confronted with an overwhelming array of sensory stimuli and are required to filter out what is most useful and salient, and discard unwanted information. Leading theorists have argued that schizophrenia may result in part from an inability to filter information. Yet, having a more open information processing style (i.e. less filtering) has also been linked to creativity and originality of thought, which is both an aesthetic and pragmatic blessing for an individual and society. Indeed, schizophrenia and creativity have been linked by previous research. Antipsychotic medication, the first line of treatment for psychosis and schizophrenia, is known to dampen down more open processing, potentially reducing conditions promoting creativity. Our research on expert meditators showed that mindfulness practice is associated with lower suspiciousness and paranoia (the strongest risk factor in psychosis-prone individuals for converting to psychosis) in the presence of decreased filtering. In this project, we examine if mindfulness training in psychosis-prone individuals reduces schizophrenia vulnerability (suspiciousness/paranoia), whilst preserving decreased filtering thought to underlie heightened creativity.

The project seeks, for the first time, to i) ascertain whether there is a link between high positive schizotypy (linked to psychosis-proneness), creativity, and reduced information filtering (as measured by the startle habituation paradigm); and ii) pilot a mindfulness-based intervention for reducing suspiciousness/paranoia with individuals with high positive schizotypy.  

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project