The patterns in a fingerprint may be possible predictors of schizophrenia, according to a study published in the “Schizophrenia Bulletin.”
The study, published in late November, was conducted by Spanish researchers at the FIDMAG Germanes Hospitalàries Research Foundation in Barcelona.
“The existing developmental bond between fingerprint generation and growth of the central nervous system points to a potential use of fingerprints as risk markers in schizophrenia,” the study said.
The New York Post reported that the researchers made the discovery by using a convolutional neural network (CNN) — a machine capable of analyzing the complexity of geometrical patterns in fingerprints.
“Our results suggest that fingerprints are valuable sources for diagnosis of non-affective psychosis and that CNNs are a feasible tool to achieve this goal,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers used the machine to find abnormalities in the fingerprints of people who were known to have schizophrenia and they compared their prints to those who were healthy.
In order to get a larger sampling size, they used a “publicly available set of fingerprint images from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.”
“Based on an initial sample of scanned fingerprints from 612 patients with a diagnosis of non-affective psychosis and 844 healthy subjects, we have built deep learning classification algorithms based on convolutional neural networks,” the study said.
Ultimately, the researchers found that the right thumb was the most accurate predictor for a single finger, with a 68 percent accuracy rate. The right index finger showed the lowest accuracy at 59 percent.
When examining multiple fingerprints combined, the researchers found that the left thumb, index, and middle fingers led to the highest accuracy at 70 percent.
However, the researchers noted that such a high accuracy “does not provide enough precision for a faultless diagnosis.”
But they still believe that “fingerprint images may still be valuable” in predicting schizophrenia, “especially if they are combined with other sources of information that have already shown some predictive power in schizophrenia such as genetics and brain imaging data.”
The researchers concluded: “Although fitted models were based on data from patients with a well-established diagnosis, since fingerprints remain lifelong stable after birth, our results imply that fingerprints may be applied as early predictors of psychosis. Specially, if they are used in high prevalence subpopulations such as those of individuals at high risk for psychosis.”
As the Post noted, schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder often accompanied by hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking.
According to Mayo Clinic, other signs of schizophrenia can include neglecting personal hygiene or having a lack of emotion, such as avoiding eye contact and speaking in a monotone voice.
In teenagers, this can be seen in social withdrawal, a drop in educational performance, having trouble sleeping, being easily irritated or depressed, and having a lack of motivation.
Mayo Clinic also warns that those with schizophrenia commonly suffer from suicidal thoughts and behavior.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.